Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2009-03-16
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Sheol Valley southwest of Lake Louise
State: AB
Country: CANADA
Summary: 2 skiers caught, 1 partially buried, 1 completely buried and recovered

*** MEDIA REPORT ***

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Two women survive avalanche near Lake Louise

March 16, 2009 at 9:56 PM EDT

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — A 25-year-old woman was frantically dug out by her friends after being buried in an avalanche while skiing in the backcountry near the Rocky Mountain resort town of Lake Louise, Alta.

Banff National Park spokesman Mark Merchant said four people were skiing about noon Monday in an area called Sheol Valley southwest of Lake Louise when two women were struck by an avalanche.

“One of them got herself unburied and three of them proceeded to dig out the second woman who was fully buried,” he said.

The woman was buried under the snow for 10 to 15 minutes.

“Once she was dug out she made a good recovery,” he said.

As soon as she was rescued, one skier went to the trail head where he had cellphone service and phoned for help.

Alpine Helicopters flew the two victims from the scene and both were taken to Banff Mineral Springs hospital.

The 25-year-old woman was flown to hospital unconscious but breathing, said STARS air ambulance spokesman Cameron Heke.

Merchant said the skiers were well-prepared for a trip, and were equipped with avalanche beacons, probes and shovels.

He said the risk for a slide was ranked considerable.

“Fortunately they were well prepared and able to self-rescue,” he said.

“This is a good news story.”

Merchant warned all outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious when venturing in the back country by checking avalanche bulletins ahead of time.