Vancouver’s Corey Lynam died while out skiing in popular area with group of 14 others
Avalanche Canada continues to preach prudence to those wanting to take advantage of the recent snowfall in backcountry skiing areas of B.C.’s South Coast.
On Saturday, a death near Whistler’s Callaghan Valley and a dramatic rescue on the North Shore Mountains involving avalanches provided a further sobering message that conditions are tricky.
Up to 175 centimetres of snow fell in some places in the last week.
Vancouver’s Corey Lynam, 33, died while out skiing with a group of 14 others on Saturday in the Callaghan Valley, but Avalanche Canada says the area the group was in wasn’t inherently dangerous.
‘Just wind loaded enough’
“It was not extreme terrain and to a lot of folks it probably looked like great skiing,” said senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson with Avalanche Canada.
“But it was just wind loaded enough and steep enough that it ended up causing a very serious accident.”
Avalanche Canada says due to all the snowfall, conditions for slides are considerable, meaning a human-triggered avalanche is likely.
Slab avalanches occur when snowfall and winds create slabs of snow, which then rest on a weak layer snow and a bed surface underneath that.
An avalanche can occur when the slab slides away from the weak layer.
“Is this something super unusual?” said Helgeson. “No. This is pretty typical, most of the province is under these conditions.”
No ‘big features,’ right now
Helgeson recommends that those wanting to ski in the backcountry play it extra safe.
“You need to stay diligent, you need to be really cautious and you need to gather information and stick to simple terrain and just kind of scale it back over the next few days,” he said.
“It’s not the time to go out and choose any big features right now.”
RCMP say the group Lynam was with did have emergency equipment to deal with avalanches.
Avalanche Canada says it outlined conditions on its website, without an additional warning for the weekend.
“While there wasn’t a warning I think the avalanche forecast was laid out pretty clearly about what we were expecting and that really hasn’t changed.”