The victim of Friday’s avalanche near Revelstoke Mountain Resort was a resort employee who loved skiing and the outdoors, general manager Rob Elliott told the Times Review.
“He was a great, outgoing gentleman,” Elliott said. “He’s a very bright young man who was finished school and he was following his passion for skiing and the outdoor lifestyle.”
Holger Achim Fritz, a 24-year-old from Germany, was working at the RMR repair shop for the winter. RCMP said they would release the man’s name on Monday, after notifying his family back home.
He was here to enjoy the ski season and had been actively exploring the resort and the backcountry around Revelstoke, said Elliott. He said they had a number of discussions about skiing together.
Fritz was in a group of five people touring past Greeley Lake towards an out-of-bounds run known as Birthday Chute on Friday afternoon. At some point, they triggered an avalanche, catching three of them in it.
Elliott said Fritz was wearing an avalanche airbag but it wasn’t enough to save him. His ski partners were able to dig him out of the snow but he had already passed away. According to unconfirmed reports, they performed CPR for 20 minutes to no avail.
The four survivors were able to return in bounds, leaving Fritz’s body behind. It was retrieved by Revelstoke Search and Rescue on Saturday morning.
“People are affected pretty traumatically by it all. He was a genuine character, he got a long with everybody and its tough to get over it,” said Elliott.
The avalanche danger for the alpine and treeline was rated high on Friday, meaning natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches very likely. The day was characterized by heavy snow and wind, with the resort reporting 23 centimetres of new snow over the past 24 hours as of 4 p.m. on Friday.
The avalanche bulletin said a spike in natural avalanche activity was to be expected on Friday. “Direct action storm slabs and deeper persistent slab avalanches are very likely with this system,” the bulletin states.
The cause and size of the avalanche has not been reported.
The area the group was skiing is a popular backcountry area that is easily accessible from the resort.