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One dead, two seriously injured in trio of avalanches near Pemberton

Click to play video: 'One dead and several injured in series of backcountry avalanches near Pemberton' One dead and several injured in series of backcountry avalanches near Pemberton
One person is dead and several others are hurt after a series of backcountry avalanches near Pemberton Saturday and as Grace Ke reports, RCMP are warning that the snowpack in the Sea-to-Sky region remains unsafe – Feb 6, 2022

One person is dead and two people were seriously injured in avalanches near Pemberton on Saturday.

Mounties said they were called about two avalanches on Cassiope Peak and one on Mount Cayley around 1:20 p.m., which had buried multiple skiers and snowmobile operators.

Pemberton Search and Rescue attended Cassiope Peak with two helicopters, avalanche dogs and a long-line rescue team, and found that four skiers had been caught in a large slide. One died and one was seriously injured, while two escaped unscathed.

Read more: Avalanche warning in B.C. and Alberta expanded

Two other people were caught in a second slide at the Cassiope Trail Head, but were uninjured and able to make their own way out, according to police.

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“People in the parties that were on the scene, they certainly did a good job of keeping level heads and trying to get people out of the danger area as best they could, and certainly point our rescue teams into the right area as well,” Pemberton Search and Rescue search manager David MacKenzie said.

Whistler Search and Rescue and North Shore Rescue were deployed to the third incident on Mount Cayley, where a snowmobile operator suffered serious injuries, police said.

Crews were able to locate that rider after dark, thanks to North Shore Rescue’s access to night-vision technology.

“This would have been absolutely impossible without night vision goggles,” Dr. Alec Ritchie with North Shore Rescue said.

“Whistler SAR tried to get to him but had bad coordinates. The original coordinates, through no fault of Whistler SAR were not correct and they flew apparently for two hours trying to find the guy during the day. The difference for us is we can fly at night.”

BC Emergency Health Services had initially reported that up to five people had been injured in the incident, and said two people were airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital.

Read more: Clouds, fog and avalanche risk for B.C.’s South Coast as inversion forecast

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Whistler RCMP is warning that the snowpack in the Sea-to-Sky region remains unstable, and that there was an “immense risk” in the backcountry, with concern for more avalanches in the weeks to come as temperatures increase.

It is a message echoed by Pemberton Search and Rescue.

“We just kind of caution people, if they’re going to the backcountry that they go to the Avalanche Canada website, Avalanche.ca, and check the rating for the area that they’re going in, understand what those ratings are, and the hazards that are in that area,” Mackenzie said.

“If you don’t need to go there, wait another day until the conditions are more favourable.”

Pemberton RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are investigating the fatality.

Click to play video: 'Dry conditions across southern B.C. bring avalanche warnings' Dry conditions across southern B.C. bring avalanche warnings
Dry conditions across southern B.C. bring avalanche warnings – Jan 20, 2022

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