Avalanche kills man in Callaghan Valley 

Body of 33-year-old man discovered yesterday afternoon

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF WAYNE FLANN - Rescue crews gather at Hanging Lake after a deadly avalanche on Saturday, March 4.
  • Photo courtesy of Wayne Flann
  • Rescue crews gather at Hanging Lake after a deadly avalanche on Saturday, March 4.

A 33-year-old man is dead after he was caught in an avalanche in the Callaghan Valley yesterday, police said.

Shortly before noon on Saturday, March 4, RCMP said they were notified of a group of backcountry skiers that was searching for a man who went missing following a slide near Hanging Lake.

Whistler RCMP immediately notified local search and rescue crews and attended the scene, according to a statement from Sgt. Annie Linteau.

Darryl Leniuk*, who was up with an ACC group from Vancouver to tour, writing on Facebook, said he learned the victim's avalanche airbag backpack had been "ripped off" in the slide. His beacon was also reportedly recovered still in "search" mode. "No idea if he set it wrong, or if the force of the avalanche did this," Leniuk wrote.

After nearly three hours of probing, Leniuk said the man's body was discovered buried in less than a metre of snow, where emergency personnel administered CPR. The man had apparently slid the full distance from a ridge he had dropped off down to the lake bottom.

The Whistler RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating.

There remains a "considerable" risk of avalanche in the Sea to Sky on Sunday, according to Avalanche Canada. Yesterday's death came after a skier was rescued from another slide on Hollyburn Mountain Saturday near North Vancouver.

"Two incidents Saturday remind us that a potentially dangerous storm/wind slab remains sensitive to human triggering," read an Avalanche Canada post. "Caution and restraint is urged at this time. Take a conservative approach as you travel in the mountains Sunday."

More to come as information becomes available.

*An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed Leniuk's comments to local avalanche forecaster Wayne Flann. In fact, Flann had shared Leniuk's account of the slide on his blog: www.wayneflannavalancheblog.com. Pique regrets the error.

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