An avalanche struck outside Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s boundaries this afternoon and left three individuals with non life-threatening injuries.
At 3:00pm, Kicking Horse Mountain Safety Dispatch received a call for an avalanche and potential missing persons outside the ski area boundary, located south of the resort. The resort’s Mountain Safety personnel immediately started an investigation and activated their avalanche rescue plan.
After confirming avalanche debris outside of the ski area boundary, RCMP and other outside agencies were activated.
By 3:26pm, all three missing persons were accounted for and airlifted offsite for minor injuries, completing the rescue operation. None of them were even partially buried by the slide.
“The Kicking Horse Mountain Safety Team, Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) and all personnel involved did an outstanding job today, with minimal effect to normal operation,” said Mike Rubenstein, Director of Mountain Operations.
Kyle Hale lead GADSAR’s team.
“When we arrived it was just a small avalanche but it was through some high consequence terrain. It was very steep with lots of hazards such as trees and cliffs,” he said.
Hale said there was concern that rescuers could trigger additional avalanches, so his team was delayed in getting to the injured parties while they ensured that their presence wouldn’t cause an additional slide.
All three men are in their early 20s, all from Saskatchewan. They were skiing out-of-bounds near Terminator 2 when they allegedly caused and were subsequently caught in the avalanche. One of the men was able to call 911 and the Safety Team from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort was able to quickly locate them.
None of the men had proper avalanche gear with them at the time, something that Hale sees far too frequently despite increased awareness.
“It’s a lot less than in the past but it’s still out there. People still recreate in the mountains without the appropriate equipment or training.”