Last Updated Tue, 21 Jan 2003 17:47:17
VANCOUVER - The avalanche that killed four Canadian and three American skiers on Monday was a wall of snow as much as 30 metres wide and 100 metres long, the RCMP said Tuesday.
The bodies of the victims, recovered Monday, were buried under three to four metres of snow, Sgt. Randy Brown said.
Well-known snowboarder Craig Kelly was among the dead.
An eighth person was buried in the slide, but was not badly hurt and has been released from hospital in Revelstoke.
The avalanche occurred north of Revelstoke
By the time rescuers arrived, about 90 minutes after the slide began, survivors had dug out all of the bodies, Brown said.
The skiers were among a party of 24 who took a helicopter to ski on the Durrand Glacier 55 kilometres north of Revelstoke, B.C.
The group split into two parties. The lower group of 11 people was caught in the slide.
Three people 'were able to extricate themselves,' Brown said, and they dug out the injured person.
The dead are:
a man from Canmore, Alta.,aged 50;
a woman from Calgary, 25;
a man from New Westminster, B.C., 30;
a man from Nelson, B.C., 36;
a man from Littleton, Colo., 49;
a man from Los Angeles, 50;
a woman from Truckee, Calif., 39.
The names will be released when the relatives have been contacted.
Thirteen people in the party were unharmed, Brown said.
The survivors and some emergency crew members – up to 20 people – will be brought to Revelstoke once the weather clears. Brown said the RCMP is in contact with the people at the mountian lodge, who can hear a helicopter sent to get them but cannot see it.
The glacier is a remote but popular back-country skiing destination that attracts tourists from the all over the world.
The owner of the café where the group had eaten before heading up the mountain said the people in the group seemed to be very fit and experienced.
Layne Seabrook also said the group had a top-notch guide.
'He's well known around the world for his guiding abilities. When it comes to guiding, he's known as a guru,' said Seabrook.
The avalanche hazard in the Selkirk Mountains, north of Revelstoke is listed as 'moderate.'
Clair Israelson, with the Canadian Avalanche Association, says the snowpack seemed to be stabilizing, but it is still a dangerous time.
An average of 10 people die every year from avalanches in B.C. Up until Monday, there had been two deaths this winter on B.C. mountains.
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