This is why the “buddy system” was invented.
On Sunday, a woman was knocked unconscious and buried by an avalanche north of Pemberton, British Columbia. But thanks to the group of well-prepared skiers she was with, she was dug out in minutes.
According to CBC News, the woman was skiing with nine others who were touring the backcountry near Wendy Thompson Hut, off the Duffy Lake Highway.
Following proper protocol in avalanche-prone areas, they skied down the slope one at a time. But ten turned out to be one too many skiers, and the last person triggered an avalanche about 100 metres above.
“He probably hit the sweet spot and that’s what triggered it,” Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair told CBC News.
Members of the group whistled to get his attention and he managed to ski out of the avalanche’s path. But some of the others weren’t so lucky.
Three people were partially buried—either up to their waist or chest—and one woman was completely submerged in 1.5 metres of snow.
According to LeClair, avalanches are very common in that area, which is why several members of the group had taken formal avalanche training.
They put their skills to good use that day, locating and digging out the buried woman in a matter of minutes. According to the RCMP, she was unresponsive at first, but regained consciousness shortly after the rescue.
“While this group was well equipped and prepared, the incident highlights the need to be vigilant in the backcountry as avalanche and weather conditions change quickly and without warning,” LeClair said.