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37-year-old skier seriously injured in Kananaskis backcountry avalanche

Kananaskis Public Safety performing a rescue operation on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Courtesy Kananaskis Public Safety

A 37-year-old man was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after a backcountry avalanche southwest of Calgary in Kananaskis Country on Saturday.

Emergency services got a call around noon from a SPOT GPS personal tracker activation, indicating there was an emergency.

The man from Calgary was skiing with two other people in the Arethusa Cirque area of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, when he got caught up in the slide.

READ MORE: Five things to know about avalanches

“One skier managed to avoid the avalanche by running to the side, one was caught and partially buried and a third was fully buried,” said an update from Kananaskis Public Safety.

It said all of the skiers were wearing emergency beacons and had shovels and probes.

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The buried man was dug out by the other two skiers, who stabilized him as best they could before rescue teams got to the scene.

Kananaskis Public Safety performing a rescue operation on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Courtesy: Kananaskis Public Safety

EMS said there was a joint rescue effort with conservation officers and Kananaskis emergency services.

The victim was located on a slope in the gulley below the Arethusa Cirque. He was found suffering traumatic, life-threatening injuries as a result of the avalanche, paramedics said.

READ MORE: B.C. man tells harrowing tale of avalanche survival

Private company Alpine Helicopters was called in to pick up the victim and bring him to an ambulance on the ground.

The ambulance then met up with STARS Air Ambulance, who flew him to Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre in serious but stable condition at around 2:30 p.m. He remained in hospital on Sunday.

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The Arethusa Cirque is directly south of the better-known Ptarmigan Cirque alpine meadow area, located about 65 kilometres south of the Trans-Canada highway turnoff on Highway 40.

Avalanche Canada said the danger rating at the alpine level in the Kanasaskis area was moderate at that time on Saturday. Later, that rating was upgraded to considerable, as winds were causing the snowpack to change drastically.

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