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2 people hurt in ‘small avalanche’ in Banff National Park

Mount Temple
Mount Temple in Banff National Park, courtesy Parks Canada. Mount Temple in Banff National Park, courtesy Parks Canada.

Parks Canada responded to a small avalanche at Aemmer Couloir on Mount Temple in Banff National Park on Tuesday just before noon.

Parks Canada officials were alerted by a Zoleo satellite communications device SOS activation to an avalanche near Lake Louise.

A pair was skiers was ascending the couloir when they triggered a small slide in steep terrain, Parks Canada told Global News.

“The slide caught a party of three skiers who were ascending below them,” the agency said. “The three skiers fell approximately 400 metres and came to a rest on the slope below the couloir.”

No one was buried, Parks Canada said, adding everyone involved was accounted for and three people were rescued — one in a helicopter sling and two onboard the helicopter.

One person had broken equipment and two had minor injuries, Parks Canada said.

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One person was treated at the EMS staging area along Lake Louise Drive. The other two people were flown to the Parks Canada Operations Compound in Lake Louise.

One skier had broken equipment but was uninjured, the other two skiers had minor injuries.

Read more: Calgary hiker falls to her death in Banff National Park

According to EMS, one man was taken to Banff hospital in stable condition.

The other injured person was not taken to hospital.

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Couloir safety tips

Couloirs can be especially dangerous, Parks Canada said. They’re steep and confined and there’s risks of avalanches and of people falling as they “generally fall down the entire distance to the bottom.”

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Officials consider couloir skiing a mountaineering objective because it has all the associated hazards that mountain climbing has.

Read more: Woman airlifted to Calgary hospital after ‘high fall’ in Banff National Park: EMS

“This activity should only be considered by strong skiers who also have mountaineering experience,” Parks Canada told Global News.

“Couloirs should only be attempted by riders with advanced technical skills, including the ability to make quick, tight turns in varying snow and light conditions, as well as familiarity with mountaineering techniques and equipment.”

Skiers and riders should move very slowly and carefully, use mountaineering gear, avoid icy conditions and avoid skiing or riding above or below other people.

Backcountry users should know the current avalanche forecast, weather and snow conditions, have avalanche safety training and self rescue gear (probe, shovel, beacon), and have a backup plan.

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