A group of skiiers in British Columbia got a front row seat to an incredible – and terrifying – natural phenomenon while skiing in the Rocky Mountains last week.
Skiier and mountaineer Jurek Ziemkiewicz was skiing in the Rostrum Valley, close to Icefall Peak near the Alberta border last Friday.
The group was moving along the Valenciennes River Forestry Service Road at nearly 1000 metres above sea level when they heard a loud crack – a telltale sign of an impending avalanche.
Video captured by Ziemkiewicz shows what happened next, as the group spots a rising cloud of snow in the peak above them. The group hightails it back up the path to a safe distance, ironically passing a sign reading “Expect the Unexpected.”
Moments later, an avalanche moves just feet past where they were standing. The fast-moving snow more closely resembles a river or rapids, flowing and moving down the mountainside as the group looks on.
Ziemkiewicz, a Spanish national, was on vacation in B.C. when he came face-to-face with the avalanche. An avid outdoorsman, he is also a former guide at the Tofino Sea Kayaking Company on Vancouver Island.
“Just last week, former Tofino Sea Kayaking Company guide, Jurek Ziemkiewicz was skiing in the Rockies,” the company posted on its Facebook page. “From high above the crack of an avalanche rang out, and after scrambling back to safety, they witnessed an incredible sight! Crazy…”
Avalanche Canada has several tips for anyone looking to travel in avalanche dangers areas. Before heading out, they remind you to:
- Get the gear: A transceiver, shovel and probe could save your life
- Get the training: Take an avalanche skills training (AST) course. All that gear is useless unless you know how to use it
- Know before you go: Check avalanche forecast bulletins
- File a flight plan: Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back