Snowmobiler from Grande Prairie dies in avalanche near Valemount, B.C.

A man from Grande Prairie, Alta., is dead after he was caught in an avalanche south of Valemount, B.C., on Saturday, according to police and Avalanche Canada. 

RCMP said the victim had been riding with another person on a snowmobile. Avalanche Canada said they were in what is known as Bowl 3 in the Allen Oasis Recreation Area, a managed snowmobiling area near Valemount, which is located in east central B.C. about a three-hour drive southeast of Prince George.

Authorities said the snowmobile driver was able to ride away from the remote-triggered avalanche, but the passenger was buried by snow and avalanche debris. The survivor located the buried person, but found him unresponsive. 

“The driver was luckily not affected by the avalanche in itself and tried to conduct resuscitating efforts on the passenger. However, the passenger succumbed to his injuries,” said Cpl. Alex Bérubé with the RCMP.

Bérubé says the individuals were approximately 100 metres from each other at the time of the avalanche. 

Remote-triggered avalanches are avalanches that occur away from the point where they are triggered. They happen when a slab fractures the weak layer below it but does not produce an avalanche at the site of the fracture, according to Avalanche Canada.

RCMP received a call at 11:20 a.m. PT on Saturday and responded alongside local search and rescue volunteers, but they said the snowpack was too dangerous to recover the body. 

They hoped to recover the body Sunday with the help of Parks Canada staff, weather permitting. 

Bérubé said the B.C. Coroners Service has been notified and will take over the investigation. 

Avalanche Canada spokesperson Lisa Perazzoli told CBC News in a statement that there have been several other reports of human-triggered avalanches in nearby areas. 

On Saturday, a second police officer caught in a backcountry avalanche near Kaslo, B.C., earlier this month died of his injuries, the Nelson Police Department said.

Const. Mathieu Nolet, 28, was skiing with his colleague Wade Tittemore in a mountain pass 60 kilometres north of Nelson on Jan. 9, when the two were swept down the mountain in a large avalanche. Tittemore, 43, died of injuries on the scene.

Earlier in January, the forecaster warned that B.C.’s snowpack is unusually weak this season and could be vulnerable to avalanches.

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