February 22, 2016 3:38 pm
Updated: February 25, 2016 6:15 pm

Skiers in avalanche near Golden, BC were on self-guided tour: backcountry group

WATCH ABOVE: Lisa Macgregor updates two avalanches in the Golden area, one killing Calgarian Nick Roberts.


Seven skiers who were injured in an avalanche near Golden, British Columbia, were on a self-guided tour, the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association said Monday. They were hurt at about 11 a.m. MT Sunday while skiing in the Esplanade Range, about 50 kilometres northwest of Golden, while a special avalanche warning was in effect.

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“We are very forthright about any avalanche warnings and in fact as soon as the special advisory came out, we were very proactive in issuing that,” Golden Alpine Holidays owner John Bell said. He runs the Sunrise Lodge where the group was staying. “It’s not going to deter somebody that’s planned a trip. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to make them aware.”

“We offered a lodge to a group that made the decision. We’re not there to tell them what to do. … Most trips are self-guided and that’s just the way of the world these days. We don’t have the authority to tell them [not to go skiing during an avalanche advisory].”

Bell said most of his clients are an “older demographic” with many years of experience and choose the self-guided tour option. He said they make terrain assessments based on their years of experience, and tend to be very conservative with their approach to the backcountry.

READ MORE: Seven people taken to hospital after another avalanche near Golden, BC

The association said the experienced skiers were part of a larger group staying at Sunrise Lodge. The self-guided tour—which means their guide was self-selected and part of the group—was booked through Golden Alpine Holidays, staff confirmed. The group was on a slope near the lodge when the avalanche happened.

Ilya Storm, the forecast program supervisor at Avalanche Canada, said the avalanche was a size 2.5, and was likely triggered by the group of skiers.

“In 90 to 95 per cent of all avalanche fatalities, either the person themselves or a member in their group triggers the avalanche, and I think that these weekend avalanches are consistent with that,” Storm said, referring to a second avalanche that resulted in the death of a Calgary man on Saturday. “The avalanche risk was higher this weekend. One of the primary reasons is we had a lot of recent snow—some areas received a metre or more of snow in the last week—and the sun was coming out, so we expected a spike in both solar radiation and temperatures.”

Avalanche Golden

Six ambulances and two helicopters from Calgary and STARS were dispatched to the area, and took the skiers to Golden and District General Hospital. Two had serious injuries; a 58-year-old woman was sent from Golden to the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C. where she remained Monday afternoon. A 64-year-old man from Canmore was taken to hospital in Calgary, where he remains in critical condition.

WATCH: Deadly avalanche near Golden, BC.

A 34-year-old from Golden, and three women between the ages of 53 and 62, were treated for minor injuries.

On Saturday, a 30-year-old Calgary man was killed and a 40-year-old man from Winnipeg was taken to hospital when an avalanche struck four riders in the Quartz Creek area west of Golden. The Winnipeg man has since been released from hospital.

READ MORE: Calgarian Nick Roberts killed in B.C. avalanche

Avalanche Canada issued a warning Friday as potentially deadly snow conditions develop on slopes across parts of eastern and southeastern British Columbia. That warning expires Monday night.

Watch below: Nick Roberts, 30, was killed in an avalanche near Golden, B.C. on Saturday. Lisa MacGregor reports.

With files from Global’s Lisa MacGregor

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