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B.C. experiencing 'volatile, dangerous' avalanche conditions

Three British Columbians have died this avalanche season.
A dangerous snowpack in the Valemount region near Allan Creek on Jan. 20, 2023.

Avalanche Canada is warning outdoor enthusiasts about snowpack conditions in B.C. following another avalanche-caused death in the province.

On Saturday, two snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche near Valemount. One of them died. 

Avalanche Canada says the pair was riding at the base of a slope in a feature known as Bowl 3 in the Oasis area when the avalanche happened.

“The avalanche was remote-triggered close to the edge of the bowl at a point where the riders were approximately 20 metres from the toe of the slope,” reads an Avalanche Canada report. 

One person managed to ride away, while the other was fully buried. 

"The survivor was able to locate the buried victim but they were found to be unresponsive,” states the report. 

On Jan. 9, two off-duty Nelson police officers were caught in an avalanche while backcountry skiing near Kaslo, B.C.

Const. Wade Tittemore, 43, died that day and Const. Mathieu Nolet was transported to hospital. He succumbed to his injuries on the morning of Jan. 21.

Avalanche Canada says the snowpack is dangerous in Valemount and "incredibly difficult" in the Interior. 

"It’s essential to keep choosing low-angle, low-consequence terrain and remember that large, destructive avalanches are possible,” says the organization.

The agency adds the Interior is experiencing conditions for persistent slab avalanches; that's where a thick slab of snow loses its bond to an underlying weak layer that is buried deep in the snowpack. 

"They are difficult to predict because avalanches occur only when the right trigger is applied at the perfect time or place on a slope. As a result, deep persistent slab avalanches are often intermittent. However, if an avalanche is triggered, it is often large and destructive,” states Avalanche Canada.

In the Valemount area, "it seems to be particularly volatile in this area at the moment."

Avalanche Canada is advising the public to stay back from steep slopes and avoid any terrain where the consequences of an avalanche may be severe. Choose conservative terrain, especially if you’re choosing to venture out of well-ridden areas.

A look at the Avalanche Canada website shows three areas in the province where avalanche conditions are high and dangerous. 

Avalanche Canada