SilverStar reopening after in-bounds avalanche that left man critically injured
SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon has reopened following an avalanche that left a man critically injured Wednesday afternoon.
The resort said it has retained "independent avalanche consultants" to help investigate the slide, which took place at an in-bounds area of the mountain called Putnam Creek.
"The avalanche consultants, along with the SilverStar patrol team, will be conducting a thorough investigation of Wednesday's incident, as well as assessing resort-wide snow conditions," SilverStar said in a statement Thursday.
The 42-year-old victim was on a double black diamond run that requires hiking to access, according to the resort. He was cared for by members of ski patrol, who brought him to a safe area where he could be airlifted to hospital.
Interior Health was not able to provide an update on the man’s condition Thursday, citing privacy reasons.
The mountain was closed early Wednesday but re-opened Thursday morning, with the exception of the Putnam Creek area, which is filled with some of the mountain’s most challenging terrain.
Staff said crews would be in the area checking the snowpack.
"It was an unfortunate incident and we’re wishing the best for the person involved," said Ian Jenkins, marketing director for the resort.
The avalanche that struck is believed to be isothermal, which can happen when all layers of the snowpack are at the same temperature. According to Avalanche Canada, the condition often happens in spring, or “after many cycles of melting and freezing.”
A SilverStar spokesperson said Wednesday's slide is the first isothermal avalanche recorded at the resort.
Photos posted online by skiers and snowboarders also appeared to show much smaller slide in another area of the mountain. SilverStar confirmed another small avalanche struck on the front side of the mountain on Wednesday but nobody was hurt.
Warming temperatures are increasing the risk of avalanches across the province as snowpack is de-stabilized, according to Avalanche Canada. On Thursday morning, Whistler Blackcomb closed off the Harmony and Symphony zones, as well as the Showcase T-bar and Blackcomb Glacier, due to “increasing avalanche risk.”
Earlier this week, Avalanche Canada issued a public warning that applies to all mountains in B.C.
"We've gone from very cold to very warm," said forecaster Ilya Storm. "It’s been really intense and really quick, so the snowpack has been shocked."
There is no word where Wednesday’s avalanche victim is from, and whether they were skiing or snowboarding when the avalanche struck.
Avalanche Canada is expecting the avalanche danger to stabilize over the next few days.
"The avalanche conditions should change quickly after the temperatures cool," Storm said. "We should be seeing a return to more normal conditions and lower danger ratings sometime this weekend."