updated 3/20/2010 4:26:46 PM ET 2010-03-20T20:26:46

Rescue crews ended their search Saturday in British Columbia's mountainous backcountry after accounting for everyone in an area where an avalanche cascaded down a mountain, killing one snowmobiler.

The slide struck around 3:30 p.m. Friday while snowmobilers were riding in the deep backcountry snow on Eagle Pass Mountain near Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Saturday morning that there were two groups of people at the base of the mountain at the time who may have been caught in the slide, but by midday, rescue crews had determined everyone was safe.

"They've accounted for everybody who was at the trail heads and the roads and access points going in, so there's every reason to believe — as search and rescue people and RCMP do — that there's no one left in there," Revelstoke Mayor David Raven said.

Police said a 30-year-old man from Calgary died in the slide. Another man from Saskatchewan received minor injuries.

Moskaluk said it was a Category 4 avalanche, which the Canadian Avalanche Centre lists as its second-largest rating.

The avalanche center's Web site says an avalanche of that size would be powerful enough to destroy a railway car or several buildings.

"It would be the size of a three-story building coming down the valley," said Raven.

Stroke of luck
Friday's slide came only hours after the center released a report about another avalanche that struck on March 13 at nearby Boulder Mountain, killing two people and injuring 31.

The less-powerful avalanche was triggered during an informal snowmobile rally know as the Big Iron Shoot-Out that about 200 people attended.

The report warned that last week's avalanche could have been disastrous.

"The only reason this accident has not gone down in the history books as Canada's worst avalanche accident is luck, coupled with the quick initial response. Without either, the outcome of this incident would have been much worse," the report said.

The center said last weekend's slide was almost certainly caused by people, citing witnesses who said snowmobilers were high-marking — a contest between riders to see who can race up a slope and leave the highest mark.

High-marking has been blamed for other avalanches in the past and Moskaluk said Friday's avalanche was likely caused by similar events.

"Once again it does showcase the risk associated to this activity, to backcountry snowmobiling," said Moskaluk. "Particularly when people try to get to the top of the hill and down again on these inclines that are known to hold a high degree of risk for avalanche slides to occur."

The British Columbia interior has been hit with heavy snow and temperature fluctuations in the past few weeks, which have led to severe avalanche warnings from experts.



© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments