Banff Yoho & Kootenay National Park
sierra.sawatzky , Wednesday 31st March, 2021 2:10PM
Two splitboarders triggered a slab avalanche as pictured around 1pm on March 30th. Snow, according to the riders, was powdery at the beginning of their run and changed into wind slab right at the fracture line. The avalanche ran out over the cliffs and into a terrain trap. One rider managed to get offside of the slide path, while the other gripped a small tree to avoid being pulled further along the slide path. Thankfully, neither sustained any injuries, but the trajectory of the slide path could easily have changed that story. From our perspective at treeline it was clear that the slope featured heavy wind affect, and was exposed to the sun throughout the entire morning. There is also a sizeable cornice that has formed along the length of the boot pack that would be worth respecting. Snow below treeline was noticeably changing throughout the day, compacting rapidly in the strong heat of the sun. Temperature at 10am was -20, but the heat from the sun warranted light clothing only. It was still excellent skiing below treeline throughout the afternoon. There are plenty of safe(r) options in the immediate area to explore. Yesterday, I learned that when considering your risk tolerance and management strategies, it's important to consider how your actions may impact the groups around you if you make a decision that doesn't pan out. I now have two new questions to add to my safety checklist. Am I aware of the skiers around me, their choices, behaviours, and actions throughout the day? And, am I prepared to assist if they encounter an incident?