Alberta skier tells tale of surviving avalanche after woman was buried 4 metres deep near Lake Louise
Tim Banfield still can’t believe his friend escaped being buried by an avalanche alive while they were backcountry skiing in the Rocky Mountains near Lake Louise last week.
“She’s alive, which is shocking.”
He and two other women went on a 35 kilometre trip and in the seventh hour, an avalanche hit behind Mount Temple on Sentinel Pass near Moraine Lake.
“I was rocketing down the face, ended up upside down … thinking don’t catch your skis because if you tomahawk and you get hurt, you’re other friend is going to be dead for sure.”
One of Banfield’s friends was partially covered by snow and safe, but the other was nowhere to be seen. All they had was their training to find her with a beacon and probe.
“It’s [the beacon] showing me a distance that’s vertical, so I knew that she was underneath us four metres in the snow, and at that time we realized this is super serious and normally burials that deep don’t end very well.”
After more than 10 minutes of searching, a sign of hope. His probe hit something – not sure what exactly – but there was no time to waste, so they kept digging in that direction. Then Banfield sees his friend’s pack in the snow below him.
“She was like maybe becoming disconnected and then all of a sudden ‘bap’ in the back of the head – I hit her with the probe and kind of like brought her back,” Banfield said.
They found her and miraculously she was still conscious.
“So I find her head, at this time she’s making noises in the snow so we know she’s alive,” Banfield said. “I’m head first in full reach clearing the snow from her nose so she can breath. I was shocked, A, that we found her … B, that she was alive.”
READ MORE: Calgary man killed in avalanche near Fernie, B.C.
It took roughly two hours to dig her entire body out.
“I was in the hole padding her down to see if she had a broken rib, or a fracture, looking for blood and there was nothing and the whole time we were just shocked,” Banfield said. “It very easily could have been different.”
STARS Air Ambulance confirmed one of its crews was dispatched to Lake Louise at about 6:20 p.m. last Thursday, but the call was later cancelled.
Banfield said Parks Canada flew the group to safety at around 7:30 p.m. He said his friend just had a few scratches after the incident.
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