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There was an Avalanche incident on the Eastern flanks of Strata Mountain at 1300hrs on the 8th of January. A party of 4 was ascending out of trees into open terrain around 1350m when a small (size 1-2) avalanche released above them. The depth was approximately 25 cms deep. The width of the fracture line was hard to see due to darkness. One skier was caught in the debris flow and taken over a 9 meter cliff (Approx.). The skier landed in open terrain and was swept an additional 30 meters. The skier caught sustained lower leg injures just above the boot top. This forecaster and the Comox Valley Search and Rescue Team located the group at approximately 9pm. A decision was made to airlift the patient out and the 442 squadron out of Comox was dispatched. Weather and winds hampered the rescue but the weather improved rapidly through the night and the patient was airlifted to Hospital at 3am.
The party was equipped with self rescue gear and were adequately equipped for travel in the backcountry. There was a mix of experience levels within the group but they were mostly experienced tourers with many miles of ski touring behind them.
Many thanks and Kuddos to the Comox Valley Search and Rescue Team and the 442 Squadron out of Comox. Were are very lucky to have these resources close to home. They made a difference last night as they do many times throughout the year.
Points to take away from this incident:
Small avalanches can have serious consequences in relation to terrain traps.
Be cognizant of what danger ratings mean.
If you are a backcountry skier you need to take a first aid course.
Equip yourself for self rescue and always bring enough gear to get through a night. Even if its just matches and a saw and light bivy/tarp. Learn survival skills for winter environments.
Published by: Cliff Umpleby