Montana Bowl

Central Selkirk

chrisrubens1 , Wednesday 12th April, 2023 4:40PM

Snow conditions were: Powder, Wind affected. Weather conditions were: Foggy. We rode: Convex slopes, Open trees, Steep slopes. Riding quality was good.

Avalache Conditions: 30cm + of new snow, or significant drifitng, or rain in the last 48 hours. Whumpfing or drum-like sounds or shooting cracks.


This morning a group of 6 friends was skiing for a friend's birthday. The forecast had a chance of sun so we headed to the ski hill with no real ambitions but hoping for some powder with friends. After a couple of laps on the groomers, we headed into the backcountry exiting the ski area boundary on the south side. We ski toured along the ridge mostly in the fog talking about a lot of different options but none seemed appealing. We ended up continuing to Montana Peak. Along the way we had cracking in the snow but only down 10cm on due south. As we switched aspect to more of a west face, the cracking went away and the snow felt like nice consolidated spring snow. We made it to the top of the ridge and then we decided to ski the main Montana west face. I was the first person to drop in, it was great skiing down. When I got to the bottom, one friend was close behind me and another was near the top of the slope. As he cut across the top of the slope, it released. I immediately yelled avalanche loud and repeatedly. We also had radios and I immediately got on the radio to let the guys on top know. We had eyes on the skier involved until about 60’ from the bottom. The other friend and I immediately started hiking up towards the last scene point while communicating to the people above where the last scene point was at the same time being cognizant of the fact there was a lot of hang fire. We quickly switched over to search and I had a signal of 50m which I soon communicated to the people up top. They were able to come down quickly and found him with his glove above the snow and face mostly uncovered. We quickly got him out and started assessing his injuries. During this time one of our members made contact with the RMR ski patrol via radio to let them know there was an avalanche and that we would possibly need a rescue. It was quickly determined that we would need to fly him out and we communicated to patrol that we would need search and rescue. We had one person communicate with the patrol and build a helipad. We tried our best to get him off the snow and keep him warm. He had a dislocated shoulder and his other shoulder had severe trauma on the backside. None of our crew had a toboggan, so we made an improvised toboggan out of a snowboard and some bags. It became very clear that moving him was going to be a big challenge. Right around this time, a crew showed up that had the Alpine ThreadWorks rescue tarp. We immediately switched to using the toboggan and for everyone involved, it was obvious that the simplicity and efficiency of using this tarp was invaluable. We moved him about 150m to an LZ. With a big group, it was easy to move him with the toboggan. From there the search and rescue helicopter was luckily and skillfully able to get in and loaded without a problem. Our big learnables from the day are: Radios played a really important role in both communicating within our group as well as being able to call and coordinate a rescue. Out of a group that normally carries at least one alpine threadworks tarp in the group, this day we had none. Maybe call it complacency with the so-called “slack country” or a mellow spring day. The ease of use and keeping someone warm is unbeatable. It won’t be coming out of my bag again. Big thanks to RMR patrol for all the help with communicating and coming out to give us a hand. Search and Rescue Revelstoke and Selkirk Mountain Helicopters for awesome safe flying. The group that came to help us with the proper gear was instrumental in a smooth rescue. Thanks to everyone involved.


Slid on a buried sun crust.