A 37 year old male snowboarder has died in an avalanche on Blackcomb Mountain. The slide occurred in (or near) Ruby Bowl, which is a region accessed by, and known as ‘Spankys Ladder’. It is a double black area which has been closed all season due to low snowpack and avalanche risk. In order to access this entire region (3 main bowls) one must hike past a couple of signs stating the area is closed.
I clearly remember mountain staff telling everyone during our initial upload in the morning of New Years Eve that the avalanche risk was very high and that it is recommended to stay in bounds.
The slide happened on Wednesday 31st December 2008, apparently after the mountain was shut and therefore after patrol had conducted their sweep. How this individual managed to avoid ‘sweep’ is unknown at this time (if true). ‘Sweep’ is when ski patrol do a final run down the mountain to make sure the mountain is empty of guests.
Update: The snowboarder was reported missing late last night (around 8:30pm), and by using a GPS function on his cell phone it was determined he was still on Blackcomb mountain. A search was conducted first thing this morning. Ski Patrol, Search and Rescue and avalanche rescue dogs were utilized, and they found his body had been caught in a class 2 avalanche which had a crown of 1 metre and ended up with a debris depth of up to 2 metres.
There are also reports of up to 2 more avalanches today, both on Whistler mountain. One in Harmony bowl, an area which was in-bounds, and the other I am not sure where it was, but apparently it was out-of-bounds. The avalanche in Harmony bowl occurred after the area was opened to public, while some people may have been involved, it appears no one was injured.
Update: It appears that a 26 year old snowboarder died in the 3rd avalanche that happened on Whistler today. It occurred in an out-of-bounds area known as ‘Secret Chutes’ which is accessed from Harmony chair heading towards Symphony Bowl. It was also a class 2 avalanche. (I am not 100% sure of this location. I think it is either the access to Sun Bowl from Burnt Stew Trail, or the far skiers left entrance to Sun Bowl from Harmony Ridge. I am aware of a run called ‘Secret Chute’ which is located on Blackcomb) Thanks to ‘Whistlergirl’ in the comments section, the area known as ‘Secret (or Hidden) Chutes’ is located between ‘Harveys’ and ‘Sunbowl’. It is accessed via the Harmony Ridge.
The avalanche advisory is HIGH everywhere, and will continue to stay that way for a while. The recent cold weather has created snow layers which are not bonding well.
This is the 3rd and 4th deaths this season for Whistler. Two others died after hitting rocks.