Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2001-10-13
Submitted By: Bradford_White
Place: Parkers Ridge, Near Jasper National Park
State: AB
Country: CANADA
Summary: Solo Skier caught, partially buried, very lucky

An Official report will be posted from the CAA

When it is submitted.

Parker's Ridge is a popular early season ski touring location just adjacent to

the Columbia Icefields. Access is from the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 North. It is

in Banff National Park

On Saturday, October 13, 2001 ?J? went up to see if there was enough snow for some early season backcountry skiing at Parker?s Ridge. He was by himself, but he took along all of his avalanche safety gear including his beacon(SOS) and shovel. Fresh snowfalls over the previous 11 days combined with moderate westerlies had created a number of patches of snow in steep lee gullies that looked like they would offer some turns so up he went. He chose a long patch in a steep NE facing gully feature that started around 2400m elevation and was around 40 degrees. While walking up the edge he created some ?whoomphing?in the snow patch. J started at the top and skied down about 2/3 of the gully when the snow buckled and began to move. He felt that he had triggered the pocket from below as the fracture line was near the top of the gully. There were too many rocks to ski out to the side so he tried to run straight down but the snow overwhelmed him. The runout to the path is a low angle fan and J ended up in a sitting back position buried up to his neck with his arms out. He managed to get his shovel out of his pack and dug himself out in about twenty minutes. The debris had already set up very hard. The avalanche was a soft slab that took all of the snowpack down to the rocks. Average depth of crown about 40cm , width 40m. The avalanche ran about 200m and created a deposit of 1.5-2.5 meters deep X 20m wide by J?s estimates. Ground surface in this location varies from small scree up to cobble size talus. J was uninjured and managed to recover all of his gear and go home. The accident occurred at around 5:00 PM, and nobody knew of J?s whereabouts, so had he been totally buried it would have been the next day at the earliest before someone might have come to look for him.