Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Frank W. Baumann
Place: Rogers Pass near the town of Golden
Summary: 4 skiers caught, one buried and killed
Backcountry skier dies in avalanche
by Ryan Kuhn
A backcountry skier was killed by an avalanche at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17 in Glacier National
Fran?ois Lanneau, a 41-year-old tourist from Paris, France, was skiing with seven other
experienced ski mountaineers, also from France, in the Illecillewaet drainage near Lookout coll
when the avalanche swept away four members of the party.
One of them managed to get to safety a short distance down the hill, while two were swept 100
metres down the hillside, one remaining on the surface and the other buried with one leg exposed.
The fourth, Lanneau, was carried 300 metres before stopping in front of terminal moraine at the
bottom of the basin, buried under 2.3 metres of snow.
The party, equipped with transceivers and shovels, quickly dug out the first, partially buried skier,
and then proceeded down the hill and located Lanneau within about 10 minutes of the slide. By the
time they dug him out, 30 minutes had elapsed.
The victim showed no signs of life. Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was started immediately and
three people went for help.
A coroner's examination determined the cause of death to be suffocation due to a compressed chest.
The warden's office received the report of the avalanche at 3:25 p.m., almost one-and-a-half hours
after the accident occurred. A rescue party of three flew to the scene. After patient assessment and
hazard evaluation, the ski party was flown to Rogers Pass, as was the victim.
The slide was rated between 2.5 and 3 in scale, with the top crown (where the slide originated)
being 150 metres across, with a run-out distance of 250-300 metres. The victim was buried in the
deepest deposit of the slide, approximately five metres.
Six members of the French party were certified mountaineers of the French Alpine Club, and were
trained in leadership courses, avalanche safety, safe mountain travel and first aid. A seventh
member of the party is a police officer with the rescue service in Chamonix.
The group had been skiing in the Rogers Pass area for four days prior to the incident.
This season's avalanche conditions have been some of the worst in half a century. Unstable snow
pack and "depth hoar" conditions persist throughout the region.
At the time of the accident, conditions in Glacier National Park were posted as being
"considerable." This means natural avalanches are possible and human triggers are probable.
As of Monday, "considerable" dangers persist throughout the region. For avalanche information, go
to the Web site www.avalanche.ca or call 1-800-667-1105.