Tragic Avalanche in Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Claims Life of B.C. Climber

A sign marking the entrance to Kananaskis Country in Canmore, Alta., Monday, April 24, 2023. PHOTO BY JEFF MCINTOSH /The Canadian Press

A tragic avalanche incident in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country has resulted in the death of a 29-year-old man from Squamish, British Columbia.

The accident occurred on Saturday when a pair of ice climbers were descending from the Lone Ranger ice climb in the park’s Ranger Creek. According to Avalanche Canada, the climbers had just completed their ascent and were at the base of the climb when a wind-slab avalanche struck them. They were subsequently swept into a gully below.

RCMP Corp. Troy Savinkoff, from the Stoney Nakoda RCMP, detailed that a distress signal was received shortly after 3 p.m. MT, on Saturday. Kananaskis Emergency Services, responding to a Garmin GPS alert, discovered a 26-year-old woman who had managed to extricate herself from the snow. However, her climbing partner, a 29-year-old man, was missing at the time.

The Avalanche Canada incident report noted that the avalanche developed rapidly above a reactive crust that had formed on Nov. 10, with other dry loose and wind slab avalanches observed in the area.

Savinkoff stated on Sunday morning that the missing climber had been found deceased. The man’s body was retrieved from under the snow and has been transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for further examination.

In light of the incident, Alberta Parks has announced the closure of the Ranger Creek Drainage area, including four ice climbs, until further notice. This move is a precaution to prevent further accidents while the conditions are assessed.

The Lone Ranger ice climb, where the accident took place, is near the Alberta-British Columbia border. The area is known for its challenging ice climbs but also for its potential avalanche risks, especially in conditions like those leading up to the incident.

This tragic event serves as a somber reminder of the dangers inherent in mountain sports and the unpredictable nature of avalanches. Authorities urge climbers and outdoor enthusiasts to stay informed about current conditions and to exercise extreme caution when venturing into backcountry areas, particularly during periods of heightened avalanche risk.

For ongoing updates and safety information, individuals are encouraged to visit the Avalanche Canada website and to heed all warnings and closures issued by Alberta Parks.