Avalanche death under investigation
A Whitehorse avalanche expert is looking into how a snowslide in Kluane National Park and Reserve killed a 29-year-old backcountry skier this week.
Honza Galac, 29, of Whitehorse was killed Sunday by an avalance at Kluane National Park in southwestern Yukon.
Honza Galac of Whitehorse died Sunday after he was swept away by an avalanche that began while he and three friends were skiing.
His friends have told CBC News that they had skied that weekend from Anchorage, Alaska, into the park. They were on the north face of Observation Mountain, in the Slims River area, when the avalanche was triggered.
Avalanche expert Kirstie Simpson, who is preparing an accident investigation report into Galac's death, said Galac and friends were experienced skiers who made some good decisions on their trip route, skiing through a gully on a north-facing slope.
Still, Simpson said snow conditions are always unpredictable, especially in warm spring weather.
"They made some good route decisions on their way in, and you know, perhaps at the very end of that particular route they may have deviated a little bit," Simpson told CBC News.
"Generally speaking, there was a fair amount of avalanche activity on the north-facing gullies — which was what this was — and so that was sort of a common condition in that area."Skiers prepared
This photograph shows the point, marked 1, where the snowslide was triggered, as well as the point, marked 2, where Galac's body was recovered. (Parks Canada)Simpson warned that north-facing slopes are not always safer than southern approaches, and noted that avoiding the warmest times of the day is critical.
As for what happened after the avalanche struck, Simpson said Galac's companions knew how to react, and had the skills and equipment to locate Galac and dig him out.
"They did an amazing job at doing the rescue, and he was buried almost two metres deep," she said.
"The fact that they knew how to do an avalanche search, they knew how to probe, and they knew how to shovel — they did a very, very good job at the rescue, and hopefully they know that."
The remoteness of the area where the avalanche took place is not a significant factor, Simpson said, warning that people should not be lulled into a false sense of security in more popular areas such as the Haines or Skagway summits.
Simpson's report will be submitted to the RCMP, Parks Canada, the Yukon coroner's office, and the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north.....z0lgcnFYdw