Global News has confirmed the identities of two men who died following an avalanche Sunday morning on an Alberta mountain.
Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) said Andrew Abel and Nathaniel Johnson were the victims of the avalanche on Mount Andromeda. Abel’s mother has also confirmed her son was one of the victims.
ACMG said Abel was an apprentice rock guide and Johnson was a Level 2 climbing gym instructor. The association said the two men were out “for a recreational day in the mountains” at the time of the deadly incident.
“They were passionate climbers and their deaths leave an indescribably massive hole in the lives of their families as well as the ACMG community,” an ACMG statement read.
Jasper National Park communications officer Steve Young said a slab avalanche occurred on Mount Andromeda in the Columbia Icefield near Jasper, Alta. Jasper RCMP said the avalanche happened at around 7:45 a.m.
“It’s basically like concrete. A big slab comes down. So it was a Size 3, so we’re talking a pretty sizeable chunk of snow,” Young said Sunday.
Young said people hiking in the area saw the avalanche and called Parks Canada. Crews from the visitor safety team were dispatched to the area – one from Banff and two from Jasper – along with dogs, who located the victims, according to Young.
“When we got there we found that there had been an avalanche. It came down from about 3,000 metres right down to the valley bottom on Mount Andromeda and unfortunately, two people passed away as a result of the avalanche,” he said.
Young said the mountain is known as a popular climbing destination.
“It is part of the actual Columbia Icefield glacier complex. So it’s kind of on the Jasper side of the icefield, if you will, as you look out from the icefield centre. So it does have a section that’s glacier all year long, so it’s pretty popular among those extreme outdoor enthusiasts that love to climb mountains.”
Last July, three people were killed and 14 were injured when a big-wheeled ice explorer rolled down a rocky embankment and landed on its roof on the Columbia Icefield.
— With files from Global News online supervisor Caley Ramsay