Detailed Accident Report

Back to accidents page

Date: 2003-03-17
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Grizzley Bowl Area in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 2
Summary: 3 skiers caught and buried, 2 killed





AP: Outdoor Research Founder Killed in Avalanche

Nelson, B.C. (Ski Press)-The Associated Press reported that Ron Gregg, owner of Outdoor Research outdoor clothing apparel, was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia Monday.

Gregg, 54, of Seattle, and James Schmid, 40, an assistant attorney general, died when an avalanche hit their skiing party in the Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park near Nelson, B.C.

The avalanche was reported to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about 2 p.m. Monday.

The AP reports that a wall of snow buried three of the six people in the party when they skied ahead of their companions, according to Constable Heather Macdonald. One man, buried only to his shoulders, managed to dig free with a shovel. The four skiers then tried to rescue Gregg and Schmid, who were buried under several feet of snow, but the men were dead when their colleagues reached them. (? 2003 Ski Press Media, Inc).

Ski Press Magazine


Two Seattle skiers killed in B.C. avalanche


By LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News and Associated Press

NELSON, British Columbia - One of two Seattle men killed in a British Columbia avalanche in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park owned an outdoor equipment company.

Ronald Gregg, 54, died along with James Schmid, 42, after being buried in a slide Monday afternoon in the Grizzly Bowl area of the park, about 12 miles north of Nelson in southeastern British Columbia.

In 1979, Gregg founded Outdoor Research Inc., a Seattle company that makes outdoor equipment and clothing. The privately held company employs about 200 workers.

An avalanche in the Grizzly Bowl area of Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in southeast British Columbia rolled over four skiers, killing two of them Monday afternoon.

Gregg was an experienced skier who constantly tested his company's products around the world, said his brother, Bob Gregg.

"He's climbed most of the major peaks around the world, and that was what led him to critiquing other products that were available on the market. I think he finally tired of the family saying ?if you?re so smart why don?t you build it yourself,?" said Bob Gregg, Ron?s brother.

The two Americans were with another pair of skiers when they were hit by the avalanche at about 2 p.m. Monday, Bob Gregg said.

"My understanding is one of the skiers was not involved at all," he added. "The second skier was involved and was able to extricate himself from the avalanche and he was the one who found my brother, but not in time."

Royal Canadian Mounted Police and B.C. parks officials assisted in the search effort on Monday. The British Columbia's coroner's service was also investigating.

Bob Gregg was named president of Outdoor Research on Tuesday by the four-member board of directors.

Ron Gregg had a doctorate in nuclear physics from the California Institute of Technology. "He was a borderline genius," Bob Gregg said.

He leaves behind his wife, Sharon, and two sisters, Lonna and Laurie, all of Seattle.

Nineteen people have now been killed by avalanches in the B.C.

back country since October, said Evan Manners, operations manager of the Canadian Avalanche Association, which provides warning bulletins three times weekly.

Kokanee Glacier park is about 100 miles south of Glacier National Park near Revelstoke, where seven Calgary-area teenagers were killed last month in an avalanche while on a high school ski trip.

An avalanche also killed three Americans and four Canadians on Jan. 20 while they skied on provincial government land about 18 miles from the site where the Alberta teenagers were killed.

The warning bulletin for an area including the provincial park where Monday's slide occurred recently had been downgraded to high from extreme, Manners said.

The rating for most of western Canada last week was extreme because of a "significant storm that came in the previous week

Manners said. "Now we're slowly improving."

The danger rating in effect at the time of the avalanche indicates "that's a time when serious caution needs to be exercised if you are out there at all," he said.

The hazard rating was downgraded on March 14, he said.

The B.C. government recently agreed to fund extraordinary risk advisory bulletins put out by the association, meaning that if something significantly changes between the usual three weekly bulletins - such as freezing rain, severe temperature variations or increased avalanche activity - the provincial cash will fund additional bulletins.

The provincial government also launched a review of avalanche safety in the back country, bringing together scientists and ski industry groups.

?We have been waiting for this call, you might say, for 20-plus years,? said Bob Gregg. ?And as sad as it is - and it only happened yesterday - the immediate thoughts that went through our mind was thank God it wasn?t a car accident. Thank God it wasn?t a silly accident, or cancer or something like that. He did truly die as he lived ? enjoying the outdoors.?

Eighteen people have now been killed in B.C. avalanches this winter, including 14 in the Revelstoke region, about 90 miles north of Nelson.

Seven teens from Calgary were killed in Glacier Park on Feb. 1, and seven skiers and snowboarders were killed in the backcountry north of Revelstoke on Jan. 20.

The review, expected to completed by June 30, will look at avalanche forecasting and warning bulletins, public awareness and research.