Parks Canada officials say two snowshoers are presumed dead after being caught in an avalanche near Lake Louise, Alta. Tuesday.
According to spokesperson Tania Peters, Parks Canada and RCMP were asked to initiate a search for two people reported missing after they failed to check out of their accommodation in Field, B.C. Peters said the incident happened somewhere between Herbert Lake and Bow Summit.
“Parks Canada visitor safety specialists are leading, sadly, a recovery operation for two missing snowshoers that we believe are involved in an avalanche approximately 20 minutes driving time north of the community of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park,” she said.
Police said their vehicle had been discovered at a trailhead north of Lake Louise on Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway).
Peters told Global News they are presuming the two people are dead because crews found snowshoe tracks leading into the area, but no tracks leading out.
“We did pick up two signals from transceivers leading us to believe that the people are trapped in this avalanche debris and that is why we are calling it a recovery operation at this time,” she said.
According to Avalanche Canada conditions are considered high risk in the area.
“We are seeing a big warming trend right now and a large natural avalanche cycle underway,” Peters said.
RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters said police are working with Parks Canada staff on the recovery efforts.
“They’re the experts in these backcountry rescues,” he said. “The weather isn’t too good in the mountains; they’re getting some rain in that area right now.
“That’s having a big impact on the recovery and search efforts because they can’t get a helicopter into the location or bring people into the location to do the proper search.”
The area was closed as of 1:45 p.m. MT. There were also avalanche-related closures on Highway 1 and Highway 93 Wednesday afternoon, according to Drive BC.
RCMP said the visitors were from Boston, Mass. and their families have been notified. Their identities will not be released at this time.
“Our condolences really go out to them at this point,” Cpl. Peters said. “It’s tough being away from your family in a situation like this; I can’t imagine what they’re thinking. But we’re going to work together with Parks to try and bring some closure.”