AVALANCHE, WEATHER British Columbia, Yoho National Park, Mount Stephen, Super Bock
On March 6, three ice climbers were approaching the bottom pitch of a route called Super Bock (180 m. III WI5) on Mount Stephen in Yoho National Park. Two of the climbers were in a protected location near the base of pitch one; the third climber was approximately ten metres behind them. A wet avalanche poured down the route and swept the third climber approximately 300 metres down slope and into some sparse trees. He sustained a lower leg fracture and significant bruising. His friends quickly responded to his aid and one carried on down to the CPR tracks below and headed to the town of Field to report the accident. The reporting person was able to flag down an eastbound freight train. With assistance from the two CPR staff on board, the climbers were able to move the patient on to the train. They met an awaiting ambulance 1.5 kilometres up the rails.
Temperatures had been above freezing for a few days with intermittent rain showers up as high as the avalanche start zones above Super Bock before the accident. Evidence of recent wet avalanches was apparent on adjacent slopes. Above freezing temperatures and rain are two of the major contributing factors in ice-climbing avalanche incidents. (Source: Percy Woods, Yoho National Park Warden Service)