Tumbler Ridge avalanche kills Alberta man

An Alberta man is dead following an avalanche in the Tumbler Ridge area Sunday.

At approximately 2:20p.m., The Tumbler Ridge RCMP received a call from the 911 call centre in Prince George, that a S.P.O.T. (Satellite Personal Tracker) was activated in an area west of Tumbler Ridge.

The avalanche occurred northwest of Albright Ridge, which has been used by a small number of experienced snowmobilers.

During the search, another call came into the Calgary 911 centre at around 6:45 p.m. Call takers were able to determine two males had made it out of the avalanche area and were approximately 23 km southwest of Tumbler Ridge.

When teams reached those men, the RCMP discovered that a total of five people were caught in the avalanche. Three of those men remained at the site of avalanche including one male who was in medical distress.

The injured male had been dug out by the survivors using avalanche beacons, probes and shovels from about two metres of snow. The male did require CPR. It was feared that the injured male had died.

With the lack of sunlight, snow conditions and difficult terrain, the search was stopped until Monday morning. The two males had some water, food, fire and an emergency kit.

At approximately 9:20 a.m., crews were able to locate the three men and confirmed that one had passed away.

A 47 year-old male from Grande Cache, Alberta succumbed to his injuries, despite the heroic efforts of his friends.

The name of the deceased cannot be released at this time, pending notification of next of kin.

According to RCMP Inspector Tim Shields, the avalanche appears to have been caused by highmarking.   Highmarking is described as the challenge of riding a snowmachine as high as possible on the side of a steep, snow-filled mountain.

The resulting avalanche was over 800 metres wide and 200 metres long.

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