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2 more dead in one of B.C.’s most dangerous avalanche seasons

A map shows avalanche risk in the province is low on B.C.'s south coast, moderate to high in the Interior, and moderate to high on B.C.'s northwest coast.

Two more people have died in what is shaping up to be one of British Columbia’s most dangerous avalanche seasons.

The latest fatalities occurred near the town of Revelstoke, B.C., about 200 kilometres northeast of Kelowna.

According to a statement from CMH HeliSkiing, which provides guided backcountry tours, three people were caught in the avalanche around 2:46 p.m. MT Monday — two clients who were fully buried and one guide who was partially buried.

The two clients were dug out and flown to Kelowna General Hospital, where they were pronounced dead, the company said.

The guide is in stable condition.

“The thousands of guests who ski with us each winter are like our family,” CMH president Rob Rohn said in a written statement. 

“It is impossible to put into words the sorrow that we feel and the sadness that is shared by our guests, their families and all of our staff.” 

RCMP say the avalanche happened in the Mount McRae area, near the Alkolkolex tenure southeast of Revelstoke near an area known as “Chocolate Bunnies.”

The B.C. Coroners Service has taken over the investigation.

Once-in-a-decade dangers

Avalanche Canada has warned the snowpack this season is unusually weak and highly susceptible to avalanches, with conditions usually seen once every one or two decades.

In addition to the two fatalities Monday, three other people have died in B.C.’s backcountry this year.

Two off-duty Nelson police officers died after being caught in an avalanche near Kaslo two weeks ago and over the weekend a snowmobiler from Grande Prairie, Alta., was killed in an avalanche near Valemount, east of Prince George.

Another person was taken to hospital Monday after being caught in an avalanche near the community of Cherryville, about 80 kilometres northeast of Kelowna.

Forecasters have told CBC that dangerous conditions are likely to persist for some time in the province, particularly in the Interior and northwest B.C. 

Avalanche Canada danger map on Jan. 23. Yellow indicates heightened risk, orange indicates dangerous conditions and red signals very dangerous conditions. (Avalanche Canada)

“Professionals with decades of experience suggest that this weak of a snowpack is only seen every 10 or 20 years,” said Avalanche Canada forecaster Zoe Ryan.

She said extended drought late in 2022 has created “numerous weak, problematic” layers of snowpack that’s more prone to slides.

She also said there is a higher likelihood of remote-triggered slides from people who aren’t near avalanche…

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