Second Whistler avalanche victim an avid skier
Police have identified a longtime Whistler resident as the victim of an out-of-bounds skiing accident on Blackcomb Mountain Wednesday.
The body of 37-year-old Steven Clark, described as an avid and experienced skier, was recovered on an area of the mountain called "Ruby Bowl" on New Years day.
Alberta resident Aaron Fauchon, 26, was killed in an avalanche on Whistler Mountain Thursday near an area known as "Secret Chutes."
Both men were out of bounds and by themselves when they were buried by snow.
The deaths are drawing attention to the dangers of current conditions, in light of the fact patrollers had posted signs warning that "Secret Chutes" was considered "beyond boundary" due to high risk of avalanche. Ruby Bowl had similar signage indicating a high avalanche hazard and "minimal control".
"The out of bounds markers are there, but you know, we're human, you're human," says Whistler resident Raymond Thibeau. "And sometimes if people tell you not to do it that makes you want to wanna go there."
"It's like any death I suppose, you know, at least they're doing what they want to do," says Whistler resident Shawn Gargan.
Experts in avalanche safety are less sympathetic.
"When we're talking about high risk, high danger, we're talking about people should be avoiding avalanche terrain, recreational users should be avoiding avalanche terrain completely," says John Kelly of the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
That warning is especially pertinent right now. A heavy snowfall, and rising temperatures this weekend in B.C. could spell disaster.
Right now, a weak layer of sugary ice sits about 60 to 90 centimetres below fresh, heavy snowfall. The more snow that falls, the greater the certainty there will be more avalanches in uncontrolled areas of this mountain range.
"Later on in the year things will get better," says Kelly. "Things will evolve and conditions will improve. But for the next couple of weeks we're into a tricky time."
And while he's begging anyone heading into the backcountry or out of bounds to reconsider, this most recent death caused by an avalanche at least has thrill seekers talking about whether or not one should duck under the rope.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Sarah Galashan