Avalanche death toll rises to 11 as Alberta snowmobiler killed in B.C.

Another snowmobiler has been killed in an avalanche in British Columbia.

INVERMERE, B.C. — Another snowmobiler has been killed in an avalanche in British Columbia.

RCMP say a 41-year-old man from Crossfield, Alta., was snowmobiling Monday night with three companions in Bugaboo provincial park, near Invermere in southeast B.C., when he was caught in the slide.

Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac said the man was high-marking, or seeing how high up the mountain he could ride, when the snow came down on top of him.

“The deceased was seen to do a high-mark and was in the process of making his U-turn to go down when approximately 40 yards above him the avalanche was triggered,” Shehovac said in an interview.

“The one witness at the base camp, his description was that the whole side of the mountain came down.”

The man’s companions immediately began searching for him and were quickly joined by staff from a nearby heli-ski company.

The man was found under about one metre of snow 20 minutes after being buried and though rescuers tried CPR, Shehovac said the man showed no signs of life and was pronounced dead in hospital.

The latest death brings to 11 the number of people killed in avalanches in B.C. so far this season; the yearly national average is 14.

Shehovac said the avalanche occurred in an area known as the Silver basin and was estimated to be a class 2.5 by one of the heli-ski company’s guides.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre says a class 3 avalanche can destroy a car or small building. Class 5 is the highest rating on the scale.

The deceased and his companions were familiar with the area and were wearing avalanche beacons, Shehovac said.

But there was fresh snow in the area and the high-marking competition between the men triggered the slide.

“It’s just one of those tragic accidents where high-marking initiated and triggered an avalanche,” he said.

Police haven’t yet released the man’s name. Shehovac said the victim is married and has young children.

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