How 8 men died in the snow in southeastern B.C.
The eight victims were well equipped for the outdoors with avalanche beacons, shovels and probes. But it's unclear if they had the most important tool they needed--information about the avalanche threat.
Harvey Valley was familiar territory for the 11 men, who went snowmobiling on Sunday near Fernie in southeastern British Columbia. But it didn't take long for the situation to turn deadly.
It all began at around 10:30 on Sunday morning when one of the snowmobilers -James Drake got stuck in a steep rocky bowl.
Jeff Adams and Jeremy Rusnak went to help. That's when the first avalanche hit.
All three were buried, and the rest of the group went over to dig them out.
Adams had dug himself out -- Rusnak was freed -- and as they tried to pull Drake out -- a second slide buried all eleven of them.
Adams, Rusnak and Drake -- the original three -- dug themselves out once again.
They made the agonizing decision to leave and get help, and within 10 minutes, as they sped out of the bowl, yet another massive slab of snow fell. This time, it buried the entire bowl in about 3.5 metres of snow.
At the time, the avalanche risk was rated considerable, meaning natural avalanches were possible and avalanches triggered by humans, probable.
"What we want to see from the Canadian Avalanche Centre perspective is people choosing the appropriate activity for the danger rating on the day that they're doing it,'' said John Kelly of the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC).
"So when they are making their plans in the morning, they don't just say 'oh I've got a bunch of friends, oh it's Christmas holidays, and we're all available, let's go out and do such and such activity'
The bulletins are available online at avalanche.ca and through a 1-800 number (1-800-667-1105). The CAC believes that this is the most effective way of getting out the latest information.
Rob Hanna trains snowmobilers, and believes the warning system is adequate.
"They are very helpful, but they should just be used as a guideline,'' he said.
However his advice to all of his students is as follows:
"If you don't know - don't go,'' he says.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Reshmi Nair