February 23, 2014 in Outdoors

Out & About: Deep, deadly week for snow-goers

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Deep, deadly week for snow-goers

OUTSTORM – Powder snow that’s piled up in the region’s mountains in recent weeks has created nirvana for skiers at managed ski resorts, with some deadly moments intertwined.

By this weekend, 49 Degrees North had received more than 36 inches of new snow in a week, and skiers were ecstatic.

But storms also generated changing conditions, especially in the backcountry. Nine avalanche-caused fatalities among skiers and snowmobilers in the West in the past two weeks put a halt to what had been the least-deadly season for avalanches in 16 years.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre issued a high-hazard warning for British Columbia after a massive slide on Wednesday near Fernie destroyed 200-year-old trees and ran past historical avalanche boundaries.

Deaths of a different nature were reported at two resorts in the region, prompting warnings for powder hounds to ski in pairs.

A skier suffocated at Crystal Mountain Resort Wednesday after falling headfirst into the loose snow of a tree well. The resort had received 19 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours. A similar fatality was reported the week before at Whitefish Mountain.

Crystal’s ski patrol director, Paul Baugher, says it’s important to ski with a partner and keep each other in sight.


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