Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2006-11-05
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Mount Inflexible, (Kananaskis County)
State: AB
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 ice climber caught, buried, and killed

Official Report can be viewed at the

Canadian Avalanche Center


Avalanche claims life of Calgary ice climber

25-year-old student dies in hospital after rescue

Sarah Chapman, Calgary Herald

Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CALGARY - A Calgary man who climbed his first 10,000-foot peak when he was 11 years old died after being caught in a weekend avalanche that buried him while he was ice climbing on Fortress Mountain.

Anthony James Devonshire, 25, was trapped under the snow for hours before his climbing partner and rescuers were able to dig him out.

He died in hospital from his injuries.

"He climbed mountains all his life," said Holly Walsh, who lives with Devonshire's father, Jim.

"He was a healthy, vibrant 25-year-old who loved the outdoors."

Walsh described Devonshire as a caring young man who loved his father, Jim, his mother, Diane, and his girlfriend. She said he was known for helping others.

While on vacation in Indonesia in 2004, when the Boxing Day tsunami struck, Devonshire stayed to help clean up after the destruction.

The former Mount Royal College student was planning to return soon to school after taking a hiatus in the mountains.

Devonshire, who was also a climbing instructor at the school, was pursuing a double major in business and political science.

On Sunday afternoon, rescuers from Kananaskis Emergency Services, Kananaskis Alpine, conservation officers and an avalanche dog joined Devonshire's climbing partner in an attempt to save him.

When they found him, he was in critical condition. He was flown to Calgary's Foothills Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

The surviving Canmore climber, who was not named, wasn't injured.

"The avalanche passed over and around him. But it unfortunately got his partner, who was totally exposed," said Burke Duncan, an assistant public safety specialist with Kananaskis Country Public Safety Services.

"He spent some time digging for him and looking for him, and when he couldn't find him, he came down and out for help."

A warning about the precarious condition of the east-facing bowl where the incident occurred was posted on the Backcountry Avalanche Report on Saturday, said the community development branch of the provincial government, which publishes the forecasts on its website.

The report warned about increasing temperatures and decreasing stability in the area.

It's believed that sloughing from steep terrain triggered the avalanche and that there may have been more than one, as a fracture line was seen a couple hundred metres above the one that hit the climbers, Duncan said.

While it's still early in the season, climbers need to remember to use caution at all times, said Bruce Keith, executive director of the Alpine Club of Canada.

"Usually, (this happens) at times when there is greater snowfall in the mountains. It just shows you that when it comes to avalanches, predictability is a difficult science."

CanWest News Service

? The Edmonton Journal 2006