A solo backcountry skier was buried up to his armpits in snow from an avalanche, but he still managed to call for help on his cellphone.
The 28 year old man was rescued by helicopter from Mount Sparrowhawk, west of Calgary, on Saturday. Officials say the slide happened in the backcountry off of Spray Lakes Road.
The man's injuries were potentially life-threatening, but his condition was stable during the trip to the Calgary hospital, an air ambulance spokesperson confirmed.
The avalanche danger in parts of Alberta and most of British Columbia has dropped slightly. But the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is still warning backcountry users to take caution.
Officials say increased traffic to the dangerous terrain, especially over the weekend, can trigger major slides in certain areas. Snowmobilers are able to access high risk areas more easily, but officials say that doesn't mean they should. According to Cam Campbell with the CAC, snowmobilers are the fastest growing user group in the backcountry.
“We've seen an increasing number of snowmobilers involved in avalanches in the past couple of years while other groups have remained somewhat steady or actually declined in numbers,” says Campbell.
It was just a week ago when an avalanche buried and killed a snowmobiler in two metres of snow. His companions dug him out within 20 minutes and tried to keep him alive. It took 10 hours for help to arrive. The avalanche happened near Tumbler Ridge, in a remote part of northeastern British Columbia. The victim was a 47-year-old Alberta man.
And on another weekend this year, three people died in avalanches in B.C. and Alberta.
Physically fit, confident men between the ages of 25 to 30 are more at risk than women to get caught in a deadly avalanche, say researchers at the University of Calgary.
With files from Lisa Varano