Warm weather, recent snowfall creates dangerous avalanche conditions in Western Alberta

Four people were caught in an avalanche on Saturday, one was sent to hospital

People headed out to the — or up — mountains should be aware recent weather has made them ripe for avalanches, say first responders in the area.

On Saturday, four people were caught in an avalanche at the Kitty Hawk trail on Mount Elliot, about 50 kms west of Nordegg.

One person, a 38-year-old man was transported by STARS Air Ambulance was 38-years-old and was stable at the time of transport.

Monica Ahlstrom, owner of Ahlstrom helicopter and search manager of the incident, said an SOS signal was sent from a GPS device from the area around 1:15 p.m. Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue and Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to the area.

“The avalanche hazard is significant at the moment,” said Ahlstrom. “We’ve had a significant amount of snowfall and, especially over the next week or so with a fluctuation in the temperatures, that always adds to the increase of avalanche possibilities.”

One helicopter to provide some reconnaissance help and to transport an RCMP officer to the scene to join the officer already on scene. They also flew a search and rescue team into the area.

Ahlstrom helicopters was used as air support.

“Over the years there have been a number of avalanches in various locations out west of Nordegg,” said Ahlstrom. “Any avalanche can be serious, depending on where you’re standing when it comes down.”

The injured climber was able to be walked out from the slide by RCMP and his friends. He was treated on scene by Nordegg Emergency Services and then flown by STARS to an Edmonton hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Parks Canada Avalanche Bulletin provides a forecast for nearby Jasper National Park, which indicates there is a considerable avalanche risk below the treeline, at the treeline and in the alpine portions of mountains in the area.


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