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Avalanche — Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Deltaform

AVALANCHE

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Deltaform

On March 31, 1984, two climbers (in their 30s) planned an early-season ascent of the difficult couloir route on the north face of Mount Deltaform. They skied to Moraine Lake, bivouacked, and began the climb early on April 1. At the top of the main couloir, nearly 600 meters up the face, they were hit by an avalanche from higher on the face. Both men were swept to the foot of the mountain. Neither man was completely buried by the snow. One was killed, probably during the fall, and the other suffered a fractured arm, shoulder and nose, and a crushed spinal vertebra. He managed to struggle one kilometer back to the bivouac site and get into his sleeping bag before seizing up with pain.

The next day a passing ski party discovered him and sent for help. (Source: Banff Park Warden Service)

Analysis

The deceased climber had several years of climbing experience and was known to be ambitious and aggressive. He had some previous experience in the Canadian Rockies, mostly in the summer.

An ascent of this route is considered difficult even in good conditions. On this occasion, the area had been subjected to sporadic snowfalls during the previous week. The victim undertook the climb the day after arriving in the area against the advice offered by the Lake Louise Warden Office. The survivor was doubly lucky to survive the fall and also to be found the next day, as there is usually very little passing traffic at that time of year. (Source: Banff Park Warden Service, Western Region)