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Avalanche kills skier near Golden

The avalanche occurred in the mid-afternoon, which can be the most dangerous time of day during the spring.


A woman was caught in an avalanche and killed on Friday, April 11, 2014 north of Golden.

Golden Search and Rescue reported that the woman was skiing with a tour group on Gothics Glacier above Fairy Meadows Lodge.

Golden Search and Rescue members were flown in by helicopter and the woman, an American who has not yet been identified, was flown to Golden Hospital and then to Foothills in Calgary, but did not survive.

The avalanche occurred in the mid-afternoon, which according to the Canadian Avalanche Centre can be the most dangerous time of day during the spring.

"Anybody who has traveled through the mountains in the spring can tell you how much the snow can change throughout a single day," said CAC forecaster Joe Lammers in his blog.. "Once the sun starts really shining and the snowpack shifts into a daily melt-freeze cycle, snow surfaces can evolve from an industrial strength crust in the early morning to unconsolidated schmoo by mid-day. These rapid changes translate into avalanche danger fluctuating throughout the day.

"If you're putting on sun-glasses, the sun is probably packing a punch. If you're shedding layers because you're warm, the snowpack probably feels the same way. If you see snow pinwheeling down steep features, or if the snow is so moist you can make a snowball, the snow is definitely warming-up."

Avalanche dangers for the Purcells, South Columbia and South Rockies as of Sunday, April 13 are rated Considerable, meaning dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding and conservative decision making are essential.

With files from  the Canadian Press