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Avalanche or Rockfall, Alberta, Banff National Park, Mount Deltaform, Supercouloir

AVALANCHE OR ROCKFALL

Alberta, Banff National Park, Mount Deltaform, Supercouloir

On June 5, two climbers in their early 20’s were reported overdue attempting the Supercouloir route (IV 5.8) on the North face of Mount Deltaform, near Lake Louise, two days after leaving to bivy for the climb on June 3. The experienced climbers had planned to leave for the climb on Thursday afternoon, spend the evening near the base and start their climb at midnight so they could complete it while the face of the mountain was the most stable. The Supercouloir is considered a difficult alpine route and is located in a relatively remote area at high elevation where avalanches persist, especially during warm sunny days. Based on the description the climbers’ friend gave to wardens, the route (under normal conditions) would have been within their technical capabilities.

Analysis

An aerial search was begun and Park wardens were able to trace tracks of the climbers up to the crux exit rock chimneys. The tracks then indicated that the pair had started to descend, possibly due to the large cornices hanging over the exit route. At the 9,900 foot level, ice tools were located on a traverse line on the route. It appeared that the two had fallen from this point.

Park wardens searched the avalanche debris at the base of the route with two dog teams in June but search efforts were suspended due to dangerous conditions on the mountain. The bodies were located visually below the bergschrund a month later on July 5 after some melting occurred. (Source: Percy Woods, Banff National Park Warden Service)