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Two heli-skiers killed in avalanche near Revelstoke

Two guests and a guide were trapped in an avalanche while in backcountry with CMH Heli Skiing
avalanche-victims
Johnathan and Timothy Kinsley have been identified by family as the victims of the Jan. 23 avalanche on Mt. McCrae.

UPDATE:

Two prominent American businessman and brothers have been identified as the victims of the avalanche accident on Mt. McCrae on Jan. 23.

Brothers Timothy Kinsley, president of Kinsley Properties, and Jonathan Kinsley, an executive of Kinsley Enterprises, were confirmed as the victims of the incident by a spokesperson with Kinsley Enterprises.

“We are deeply heartbroken to share news of the sudden and tragic passing of Jonathan Kinsley, an executive of Kinsley Enterprises, and his brother, Timothy Kinsley, president of Kinsley Properties, while on a skiing trip in British Columbia,” said the Kinsley family in a statement on the Kinsley Construction website.

The two brothers were leaders in the construction and real estate industry in Central Pennsylvania.

“We know their presence as dedicated leaders in our organization and the community will be immensely missed by many and we are grateful for your love, understanding and prayers as our entire Kinsley family manages this loss,” added the statement.

ORIGINALSTORY:

Two guests with Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) Heli Skiing were killed in an avalanche in the mountains near Revelstoke on Jan. 23.

Rob Rohn, President & COO of CMH Heli-Skiing, released a statement on the company’s website to advise of the incident.

According to the statement, an avalanche occurred just before 2 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 23) near Mount McCrae in an area known as ‘Chocolate Bunnies’ near Revelstoke where three people were caught in the slide with two fully buried guests and one partially buried guide.

The three buried individuals were located by their transceivers and extracted from the snow. CMH guides were able to attend to the two people who had been fully buried.

The two were flown to Kelowna airport and then transported to Kelowna General Hospital, however, both died.

"Immediate action was taken on scene by all involved to locate the victims, provide first aid and transport by helicopter to hospital. Ultimately, the efforts to save the lives of the two skiers were unsuccessful" said Revelstoke RCMP Detachment Commander Sergeant Chris Dodds in a press release.

According to the statement, the CMH guide is in stable condition at Kelowna General Hospital after being transported there by ground from Revelstoke.

“It is impossible to put into words the sorrow that we feel and the sadness that is shared by our guests, their families and all of our staff,” said the statement. “At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased.”

The incident is now being investigated by the BC Coroner’s office and the RCMP.

This incident adds to the list of fatal avalanches in the Interior since the beginning of 2023.

Earlier in the weekend, reports of the tragic death of a snowmobiler near Valemount on Saturday, Jan. 21. The rider was from Grande Prairie, AB and was in “Bowl 3 in the Oasis snowmobile area south of Valemount,” according to Avalanche Canada’s Avalanche Fatality Database. The rider was accompanied by a second, who was able to get away from the slide. When they located the buried victim, they were unresponsive. Avalanche Canada said the layer snow ran on a “layer of facets near the base of the snowpack,” which is the same snowpack that has been a problem since the Siberian Vortex from back in November.

An avalanche near Kaslo already claimed the lives of two earlier in January. On Jan. 9, two skiers accessed the Jardine SE3 region in the central Kootenays using snowmobiles. When the avalanche was triggered, one of the skiers was buried in 1.5–2 meters of snow, according to Avalanche Canada. The second skier was evacuated to hospital, but died 12 days later from his injuries.

The provincial government is urging people to be prepared and extremely cautious in the backcountry, with continued high and considerable avalanche risk forecast in many areas of B.C.

“Being caught in an avalanche is a life-threatening situation that has already claimed five lives in British Columbia this year,” said Bowinn Ma, the province’s minister of emergency management and climate readiness.

Ma said this year’s snowpack is being compared to 2003, which was one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities.

During the past 10 years, approximately 73 per cent of all Canadian avalanche fatalities have occurred in B.C.

Avalanche Canada continues to encourage people to stay away from steep slopes and terrain and to check www.avalanche.ca for avalanche conditions and forecasts.

“This is a highly unusual and unpredictable snowpack,” said Ryan Buhler, forecast supervisor with Avalanche Canada.

“The complication with this snowpack setup is that the layers are deep enough that we are less likely to see clues of instability, like nearby avalanche activity, ‘whumpfing’ or cracking snow. However, despite the lack of obvious clues, there is serious potential for large, human-triggered avalanches. We urge backcountry users to exercise caution and make conservative, low-consequence choices if they decide to travel in avalanche terrain. Backcountry users should always check the avalanche forecast, carry a transceiver, probe and shovel and be trained to use them.”

Avalanche Canada expects the conditions to last the remainder of the winter season in some areas.

Advice from Avalanche Canada

• Avoid steep, shallow and rocky terrain features.

• Adopt a cautious mindset when in avalanche terrain.

• Be diligent about terrain choices. Sticking to slope angles of less than 30 degrees when in clearings, open trees and alpine terrain can help minimize risk.

• Follow disciplined group decision-making, ensuring that each group member is engaged in terrain selection.

• Minimize exposure to overhead hazards, given that these avalanches can be remotely triggered and travel far in runout zones.

• Travel one at a time when exposed to avalanche terrain and regroup in safe spots well away from overhead hazards.

• Avoid exposure to terrain traps, such as gullies, cliffs and trees, to reduce the risk of being caught in an avalanche.

• Practise patience, avoid complacency and accept that you may need to manage this risk for weeks or months to come.