Skier injured after triggering avalanche near Whitewater Ski area boundary
Whitewater Ski Patrol is advising skiers the dangers of recreating in the backcountry following a recent avalanche adjacent the ski area boundary in an area known as Goat Slide.
According to post on the Avalanche Canada website, one person in the three in the party of three backcountry skiers sustained serious injuries but was not buried in the avalanche.
Whitewater Ski patrol responded to the incident with more than 10 staff and activated search and rescue to the incident that happened late Saturday, January 6, 2024.
“A party of (three) 3 backcountry skiers were returning from 5 Mile when the first skier triggered the avalanche, and went for a ride through steep trees and cliff terrain, sustaining serious injuries but was not buried in the avalanche,” the Avalanche Canada release said.
“Due to proximity to the boundary and reports of other people in the area, a visual, recco and transceiver sweep of the debris was conducted, and no other clues or signals were observed.”
In a Facebook post, Whitewater Ski Patrol said staff has noticed an increase in people traversing outside the ski are boundaries.
“A team has been working to educate the public on the risks they are exposed to when they exit the ski area boundary and find themselves in uncontrolled terrain,” Whitewater Ski Patrol said.
“Search and Rescue typically responds to out-of-bounds incidents . . . and response times can be hours.”
The avalanche was a size 2.5 storm slab, running on old surfaces including crusts and faceted snow and crowns were 20-40cm deep (shown throughout the start zone with arrows), 100m wide, and the debris ran for approximately 230m.
Significant southerly winds overnight contributed to cross loading the slope and loading fan features lower down.
Of note, this area is easily accessed by the Raven Chair, with a traverse from the ski area boundary in to the Goat Slide avalanche terrain. The debris from the avalanche ran approximately 130m past the traverse with the bulk of debris below which created uncertainty for Whitewater staff if anyone else was involved in the avalanche.
Whitewater Ski area is advising the public leaving the ski area boundary that they are responsible for their own safety and to please carry appropriate avalanche safety gear including transceiver, shovel, probe, and have avalanche training.
“Have the gear, have the training . . .. Be aware, be prepared.”