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Skier has 'close call' in Tent Ridge avalanche in Kananaskis

“The skier was not injured but lost skis and poles.”

Rescuers are calling an avalanche that partially buried a skier on Tent Ridge in Kananaskis Country on Sunday (March 24) a “close call.”

According to a report posted to Avalanche Canada’s Mountain Information Network (MIN), there were two people in the group, but only one was carried “all the way to near the bottom of the [avalanche] path and was partially buried.”

“The skier was not injured but lost skis and poles,” states the MIN post.

Avalanche Canada’s forecast summary for Sunday noted the avalanche was triggered after the involved skier’s fourth turn on a line down the mountain, resulting in them being carried down and buried up to their neck in snow.

The slide occurred on the northwest aspect of the mountain at 2,400 metres elevation, just below the summit of Tent Bowl.

“The avalanche depth varied from thin to thick, with evidence of the March 20 interface, the Feb. 3 crust, the basal facets and the ground. Some of the blocks were the size of a Ferrari,” noted the forecast summary prepared by Kananaskis Mountain Rescue.

The Outlook reached out to Alberta Parks to request an interview with a mountain rescue specialist and will update this story when a response is received.

Another MIN user reported seeing the avalanche while driving back from a hike in the area in the afternoon on Sunday.

“Drove by Tent Ridge in the morning on my way to Black Prince area,” the user stated. “Tent looked tempting in the morning sun.

“Drove by again about 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon on my way home and spotted the size 3 slide. Good [to] hear nobody seriously injured or killed.”

As of Sunday, Avalanche Canada’s forecast in Kananaskis has the avalanche risk rated as moderate at alpine and treeline, meaning natural avalanches are unlikely but human-triggered slides are possible. The risk was rated low below treeline. The forecast is the same for Monday

A snowpack summary said this past weekend left the region with 20-30 centimetres of snow.

“Recent winds have created some wind slabs in the alpine. … When the sun comes out and the temperature rises, the avalanche hazard will increase.”

Risk of avalanche is similar in Banff National Park and was rated moderate at alpine and low at and below treeline Sunday and Monday.

In Yoho and Kootenay national parks, the risk was rated low at all elevations as of Sunday and into Monday.

There have been two fatal avalanches in Kananaskis Country this past winter, with the first – a size 2 avalanche – fully burying an ice climber and partially burying another on Nov. 11, 2023, in the Ranger Creek area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The fully buried person was killed.

The second occurred March 10 on Tower Peak, during a special avalanche warning for all of western Canada. The size 3 avalanche swept two skiers between 150-250 metres down slope, fully burying the person who was killed and burying the other up to the top of his head.

Despite the partially buried person being able to dig himself out and locate his friend via transceiver, the fully buried skier did not survive.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

About the Author: Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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