Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2007-11-12
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Mt. Sparrowhawk in Kananaskis Country, Alberta
State: AB
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 climbers caught and injured, 1 killed

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Climbers escape avalanche with broken bones

CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CALGARY - Two ice climbers - one of them unconscious - were rescued by helicopter from a mountain near Kananaskis on Monday, almost 22 hours after an avalanche sent them falling 60 metres.

A 37-year-old Calgary man eventually was airlifted to hospital in Calgary in critical condition after suffering femur and pelvis fractures and hypothermia. His 41-year-old climbing partner from Winnipeg was in hospital with exposure symptoms and shoulder and pelvis fractures.

RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb said it was around noon Monday when the two men fell 60 metres down Mount Sparrowhawk in Bow Valley Wildland Park, about 90 kilometres west of Calgary. They were due back from their climb around 3 p.m. but, when they didn't return, family members called Kananaskis emergency workers around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

That led to a helicopter search that spotted them Tuesday morning.

"One was conscious and waved when the helicopter was in sight," Webb said.

Provincial conservation officers helped lift the climbers off the slopes and eventually got them to Canmore Hospital. The 37-year-old was then flown via air ambulance to Calgary.

The avalanche of ice and snow wasn't caused by the climbers, Webb said.

John Kelly, operations manager at the Canadian Avalanche Centre, said there's more snow and cold weather in the Rockies than there usually is at this time of year.

"It's an early winter," he said. "People aren't thinking avalanches yet."

Aside from the essentials, climbers should always have a collapsible probe, a collapsible shovel and a beacon to protect them in the event of avalanches, he said.

Calgary Herald