One dead in Hell Roaring avalanche

One snowmobiler found deceased; caught by avalanche at popular back country recreational spot

  • Mar. 24, 2013 6:00 a.m.
Kimberley Search and Rescue personnel board a helicopter for a flyover

Kimberley Search and Rescue personnel board a helicopter for a flyover

Carolyn Grant

One subject, whose name has not been released, was found dead after an extensive search  on Sunday.

Kimberley Search and Rescue and RCMP members were on the scene up the Hell Roaring Road in the St. Mary Valley, searching for a missing snowmobiler.

President of Kimberley Search and Rescue, Peter Reid, said that the call came in at about 3 p.m Saturday, reporting an avalanche in the popular backcountry ski area.

“There was one snowmobiler missing,” he said at noon Sunday. “Everyone else was accounted for.”

Reid says KSAR responded immediately when the call came in but their avalanche techs deemed the area too unstable to begin a ground search.

“They blasted it and the team withdrew,” Reid said. “The search began this morning (Sunday).”

Reid says that this is the same area as an avalanche last year and one a couple of years ago that took the life of a local snowmobiler.

“It may not be the same exact slope, but it is the same area. It’s a popular backcountry skiing, snowmobiling area.”

He said that search dogs were on the scene as well as SAR teams from Sparwood, Elkford, Cranbrook, Creston, Fernie, Golden and Invermere.

Avalanche conditions in the Purcells for the weekend were listed as Considerable by the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

“Very large cornices have been falling off naturally and triggered by people moving near them. Expect cornices to continue to fall during this period of sunny weather,” the site bulletin said.