KANANASKIS – One person was completely buried below the snowline in an avalanche “likely triggered by afternoon heat” on Saturday (May 11).
A party of eight people were caught in the avalanche on Mount Lawson with one person who was completely buried dug out by other members of the party.
Calgary Zone AHS-EMS reported a male teen and adult female were in “serious, but non-life threatening condition” and rushed to Calgary Foothills hospital by ground ambulance from the Fortress Junction area.
In the same incident, STARS Air Ambulance reported an adult female was airlifted to hospital.
“The party was not equipped with avalanche rescue equipment. Rescuers were heli-slung to the scene and evacuated all patients to EMS crews and STARS ...The party was caught in a gully at a much lower elevation that was well below the snow line,” Kananaskis Country Public Safety Section wrote in a Facebook post the following day.
The avalanche was “likely triggered” by the afternoon heat and initiated at approximately 2,800 metres in elevation travelling a significant distance down-slope.
Kananaskis Public Safety is reminding people that it is still “very snowy at higher elevations.”
“Mountaineers, climbers, scramblers need to keep this in mind for weeks to come. A widespread avalanche cycle occurred yesterday (May 11) afternoon with the warm temperatures and intense solar radiation and this trend is likely to continue,” the post read.
A month ago, three mountaineers were killed in a size three avalanche after reaching the summit of Howse Peak on April 16 and a week later experienced mountaineer and Canmore resident Dana Coffield died from injuries he sustained in an avalanche on the des Poilus Glacier in Yoho National Park.
Officials are also reminding the public that periods of heavy rain could initiate avalanches this time of year.
“Avoid avalanche terrain later in the day and do not expose yourself to terrain traps. Be aware of overhead hazard, including terrain that is a long way above you,” Kananaskis Public Safety wrote.
“It may seem like summer in the valley, but there is still avalanche hazard in the mountains.”