Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-01-14
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Near Lake Louise
State: AB
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 skiers caught, 1 buried and killed

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta, Jan 14 (Reuters) - An American skier trudged for hours through deep snow to safety after his companion was killed in an avalanche that roared down a mountain in Canada's Banff National Park on Wednesday.

Jeremy McIntyre, 25, of Seattle, was killed after he and his friend, 28-year-old Robb Moss, of Berkeley, Calif., triggered the fast-moving wall of snow during a backcountry ski trip in a mountain range near Lake Louise, Alberta, 180 km (112 miles) northwest of Calgary.

The region where the men were skiing, known locally as the Tylenols, is near the Lake Louise ski resort. It is unpatroled and a park official said on Thursday the avalanche danger was high because of recent snowfall followed by warm temperatures.

Moss quickly located and uncovered McIntyre after he was buried by the snow in the mid-afternoon but Moss's attempts to revive his companion using cardiopulmonary resuscitation were unsuccessful.

Moss, who lost his skis in the avalanche, then hiked about 2 km (1.2 miles) to the Lake Louise ski area. There, he alerted park wardens, who flew by helicopter back to the avalanche site to recover McIntyre's body.

The pair were experienced in avalanche awareness and backcountry skiing -- in which skins are fixed to the skis to climb slopes and removed for the trip back down. Moss said he and his friend were well aware of the risks and called the tragedy a "freak accident."

"We did everything right. It was by the book. The end product wasn't what we hoped for," he told the Calgary Herald newspaper late Wednesday.

It was the latest in a series of recent avalanche deaths in western Canada's snowy Rocky Mountains. The most notable accident occurred in early November, when Michel Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was killed after being swept into a British Columbia mountain lake by an avalanche.

Park spokesman Brad Bischoff said officials had no intention of closing off any areas to backcountry skiers despite the dangerous conditions.

"There are inherent risks in any type of outdoor activity during the winter in the mountains. It's just the nature of the beast," he said.