UPDATE: The breaking news story from Sunday follows below.
A 33-year-old skier from Sweden suffered back injuries after he was buried in an avalanche on Sunday afternoon while on a heli-skiing excursion with Eagle Pass Heliskiing.
Revelstoke RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Jacquie Olsen said the incident occurred in the ‘Cranberry Zone’ area south of Revelstoke.
The slide buried the man. The remaining three members of his group were able to locate the buried man using a beacon search and dig him out.
He was first transferred to Revelstoke Airport and eventually flown to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. His current condition is unknown.
In a statement, Olsen reminded backcountry users of the importance of travelling in a group and ensuring that you have “appropriate emergency equipment and know how to use it.”
ORIGINAL STORY posted Sunday afternoon:
A heli-skiing avalanche incident near Revelstoke has left at least one person injured.
Revelstoke RCMP Cst. Kaid Shewchuk has confirmed that RCMP responded to calls for assistance from a heli-skiing company on Sunday.
He said the incident involved an avalanche, but said any further details would be speculation at this point.
The incident occurred sometime before 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26. The exact location is unknown.
At about 3:30 p.m., a helicopter landed at the Revelstoke Airport carrying an injured person. Staff from an awaiting BCAS ambulance assisted guides in removing a patient from the helicopter. That individual was strapped to a hard board used when spinal cord injuries are suspected. RCMP officers also assisted in the transfer.
Another person who emerged from the helicopter in ski gear could be observed limping slightly.
It’s unclear which heli-skiing operation was involved. Initial reports indicated one company that operates locally, but the helicopter that returned with the injured person belonged to another. During emergency incidents, local heli-skiing companies are known to cooperate.
The BCAS and RCMP were first called to the Blanket Creek gravel pit, a highway maintenance stop about 25 kilometres south of Revelstoke on Highway 23. They were to rendezvous with the helicopter there, but the plan was changed to a meet at the Revelstoke Airport.
At the time of the incident, the avalanche danger rating in the North Columbia – Monashees and Selkirks was ‘considerable’ in the alpine, treeline and below treeline.
The Revelstoke-based Canadian Avalanche Centre had issued a special avalanche warning for the region over weekend. The special warnings are designed as a broad public notification tool. Those with advanced avalanche training can make more advanced decisions about specific local conditions. Heli-skiing guiding companies often continue operating through the warnings, opting for less dangerous slopes.
Revelstoke RCMP said they wouldn’t be able to provide more information until Monday, Feb. 27.
Do you have more information on this incident, or were you involved? Contact us at 250-837-4667.