Two people escaped an in-bounds avalanche Friday morning at Castle Mountain Resort completely unscathed.
Officials with Castle Mountain Resort confirmed the avalanche took place on the Red Chair portion of the hill Friday morning, with snow fully burying one skier and partially covering another.
Castle Mountain ski patrol crews rescued the guests, locating the one completely buried with the use of sticking probes into the snow, and they were found to be uninjured. They were assessed further by EMS at the bottom of the hill.
“We do have a mountain safety office or a hut, you might say, at the very summit of the mountain so it was witnessed by one of our mountain safety folks or team members and they were able to respond within seconds,” said Cole Fawcett with Castle Mountain Resort.
Response within seconds
Fawcett said the mountain has ski patrol huts and crew members stationed strategically around the mountain to keep an eye on conditions and respond quickly to any kind of emergency. He said a situation where someone is buried in snow is not one that should be taken lightly.
“Our mountain safety professionals are to be applauded for their quick efforts in locating the affected individual, particularly the one that was buried,” he said.
The area where the avalanche occurred was temporarily closed while crews conducted an investigation into the incident. They also did avalanche control work before it was determined safe and reopened to the public at about 2 p.m.
Fawcett said avalanche control measures had been taken in the area on Friday morning before guests were allowed on the hill, however, conditions can change throughout the day.
In-bounds avalanches rare
Fawcett said avalanches happen all the time within and outside of resort boundaries, but an uncontrolled incident is very rare within a resort.
“Within ski area boundaries though, most of those avalanches occur before guests are able to set foot in the ski area because they are deliberately set with the use of explosives to ensure the safety of guests,” he said.
Fawcett said safety crews carry out various avalanche control measures every morning, and throughout the day if necessary, all over the mountain.
Fawcett said the ski patrol team will have a debrief on Friday evening once the hill closes where they’ll discuss the incident and what was found during the investigation on the hill. He said it’s too early to tell whether they’ll be able to determine what exactly caused the avalanche — a guest or natural causes, but they don’t foresee another in-bounds avalanche happening.
Fawcett added the last time he remembers an in-bounds avalanche happening on the hill was five years ago almost to the day.
For anyone heading to the hill for skiing or snowboarding, Fawcett advised taking to the slopes with a friend or group of friends who can notify officials on the hill of any kind of emergency that could happen.