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Sea to Sky snowboarder dead in Brandywine Bowl avalanche, near Whistler

'The calls speak for themselves... the backcountry in the Sea to Sky is not stable at the moment'
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Whistler Search and Rescue manager Brad Sills urged the public last month to 'dial it back' in the backcountry following a string of recent avalanches. File photo courtesy of Whistler Search and Rescue

An avalanche in Brandywine Bowl Saturday afternoon has claimed the life of a 45-year-old man, marking the second avalanche fatality in Whistler's backcountry in as many days. 

Whistler RCMP was notified of the slide shortly after 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, police said in a release. Multiple people were reportedly caught in the avalanche, while one person was reported missing at the time of the call.

Those in the area immediately began searching for the missing snowboarder, as first responders from Whistler RCMP and Whistler Search and Rescue made their way to the Callaghan Valley area, about 15 kilometres south of Whistler Village. 

The 45-year-old Sea to Sky local was located approximately 45 minutes later, but had tragically succumbed to his injuries, police said. 

Police believe the group of three were recreating in the popular backcountry zone when they were swept up in an initial avalanche, and were attempting to leave the area when a second avalanche struck. This one, they were unable to avoid.

Saturday's fatal incident comes one day after a skier was killed and one other injured in a size 3 slide in the Poop Chutes area off Blackcomb Glacier. The third member of their group escaped unharmed. Another skier sustained serious injuries in a second, smaller avalanche that occurred earlier Friday afternoon in the Phalanx area close to the Spearhead Glacier. The individual was flown via air ambulance to a Lower Mainland hospital.

"[There have been] four serious Search and Rescue calls in the last [three] days, [two] of them fatal, and a multitude of serious injuries," said Sea to Sky RCMP Sgt. Sascha Banks in the release.

"The calls speak for themselves... the backcountry in the Sea to Sky is not stable at the moment, it's time to wait and postpone your touring trip here for another time. This is hard on all of us: Search teams, bystanders, police, and most importantly the loved ones of those who have died and been injured. Their stories have valuable lessons... which we all need to learn from."

Whistler RCMP said its members will continue to work with the BC Coroners Service to determine the order of events which led up to Saturday's incident in Brandywine Bowl, as well as the numerous other fatal incidents that have occurred in the area this winter.