The Trans-Canada Highway re-opened at 4 p.m. Pacific time between Golden and Lake Louise for the first time since avalanches and winter conditions closed it on Jan. 14.
The B.C. transportation minister Shirley Bond announced the opening shortly before 4 p.m.: “(Due) to extreme avalanche hazards throughout the corridor … 35 large avalanches forced closure of Highway 1 through the Kicking Horse Canyon,” Bond said. “Avalanche experts and maintenance crews worked around the clock to bring down the hazardous snow pack and reopen this major commercial route.”
The storm dumped over a metre of snow in 48-hours in some places. The snow landed on an already unstable base layer, then warmed quickly, leading to instability and avalanches. “It was a one-in-thirty-year event that affected the entire Kootenay Region, with increased avalanche activity in other areas of the province, as well,” said the ministry in a media release.
“I want to thank everyone impacted by theses closures for their patience and understanding,” Bond continued. “We experienced, quite literally, the perfect storm that created widespread avalanche activity. We do our very best to keep our highways open, but in extraordinary circumstances like these, some closures are necessary because safety is our number one priority.”