Canadian man dies in early avalanche

26th October 2012, by Abi Butcher

A man was killed by an early season avalanche this week in British Columbia

A man was killed by an early season avalanche this week in British Columbia

Canadian authorities are reminding all off-piste skiers to brush up on their avalanche skills this season, following the death of a mountain worker in British Columbia.

Pat Lawrence Desmarais, a 50-year-old surveyor, died when a wall of snow swept him off a cliff while he and a colleague were taking GPS coordinates about 1,500km north of Vancouver on Tuesday (23 October). Mr Desmarais’s colleague survived.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) has responded by posting its first blog on preparing for the back-country.

Greg Helgeson, a CAC public forecaster said: “Everyone’s had a break and they have to shake the dust off and start thinking about avalanche conditions.”

He said this week’s fatality was the earliest seen in Western Canada in ten years. During the 2010/2011 ski season, ten people were killed by avalanches in Canada.

Last month, 11 climbers and skiers died in an avalanche on Mount Manaslu in Nepal, including two renowned mountain guides from Chamonix.

The US recorded 34 avalanche deaths over the 2011/2012 season, nearly the worst year on record, just two less than the country’s record.

There were 23 fatalities in 15 incidents in the French Alps — almost all of which were ski touring or off-piste skiing or snowboarding accidents. In one incident, more than 40 skiers had to rescued after an avalanche hit a chairlift in Saint François Longchamp.

In Switzerland, 19 people died in avalanches, 14 of which were in the backcountry, three were out of bounds and two were on transportation routes, according to Switzerland’s Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. And in January, an avalanche blocked access to the ski resort of Zermatt.

In Austria, 17 deaths from avalanches were recorded over the 2011/12 season, well below the long-term yearly average of 26.

Visit the Canadian Avalanche Centre at

Back to news

Recent news

Share |