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Avalanche, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park, Mount Edith Cavell

AVALANCHE

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park, Mount Edith Cavell

On June 28, two climbers ascended the East Ridge of Mount Edith Cavell, and made the summit by 1300. They began descending the East Ridge, and were over the steep section by 1500. At the head of the prominent gully which parallels the lower angled part of the ridge, they elected to remove the climbing rope and glissade the gully a short way. Recent snow and warm temperatures made conditions in the gully isothermal. A. M. was descending first and at 1510 triggered a small snow sluff which caused him to lose his footing. He started sliding down the gully and was unable to self-arrest. A. M. slid the entire length of the gully, approximately 1000 feet and came to rest just above the Col on a talus slope. His partner J. H. was also caught in the slough but managed to free himself before getting carried down. He scrambled down the ridge and found A. M.’s body at 1530. He did a primary survey and found that A. M. was deceased. J. H. then descended to the trailhead to report the occurrence to Park Wardens.

Analysis

The route was in poor condition with fresh, wet snow. Despite this, the climbers made extremely good time on the ascent and descent to the top of the gully. The gully is usually snow filled, which turns to hard firm in the spring and summer. Ten cm of wet spring snow, which fell recently, rested on a hard surface and sloughed easily. The gully probably looked like an inviting, easy and quick way to descend to avoid the tedium of descending greasy quartzite. Once the snow started moving, it would have been difficult to stop on the hard surface underneath. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)