A group of 11 backcountry skiers were involved in an avalanche incident today in Fernie’s Orca Bowl. Four skiers were caught by the skier triggered avalanche, estimated at a Size two, with one of the skiers carried down the slope around 300 metres.
The avalanche was approximately 100 meters wide and 300 meters long on an east facing slope running between 1975 and 1800 meters. Thankfully nobody was fully buried and the group were able to effectively execute a companion rescue with the affected skiers.
Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked at midday to evacuate the injured skiers. Three avalanche technicians responded to the site and three injured skiers were flown back to Fernie and handed over to BC Ambulance Service with suspected minor injuries.
Orca Bowl is a popular ski area for guests staying at the Thunder Meadows backcountry hut, located in the Lizard Range above Island Lake Lodge. Thunder Meadows Hut is a bookable overnight BC Recreation Facility that sleeps up to 12 and is managed by the Fernie Trails & Ski Touring Club.
The Calgary based group had been at the hut for a few days. Reports confirm that poor visibility due to low cloud put the group in a compromised situation in terrain with increased hazard.
Todays Avalanche Bulletin for the Lizard Range stated, “Expect to continue to see persistent slab avalanche activity as the snow sitting above the persistent weak layer further settles and consolidates with forecast warmer temperatures.” Avalanche Canada reports that it’s a complicated time to be traveling in the snow in the Interior Ranges. Snowpack Update here.