Avalanche Canada
(Avalanche Canada)

A pair of skiers were caught up in an avalanche on Sunday near Courtenay, with one of them suffering serious injuries.

According to Avalanche Canada, the skiers were on the mountain in the Beaufort Range at around 1:30 p.m. on a treed ridge feature.

One of them skied onto a small downward curve at an angle of 35 degrees, causing a fracture in the ice and snow to occur about 20 metres above them.

The report says the fracture was between 200 to 300 metres wide and from 30 to 150 centimetres high. The quickly falling debris caught both skiers up and ran for about 200 metres to stop on a bench.

One of the skiers was buried 135 centimetres deep and sustained serious injuries. The second skier ended up on top of the debris when the avalanche came to a stop.

They were able to initiate a rescue and extracted the buried skier within about five minutes of the avalanche occurring.

Avalanche Canada issued a public warning for recreational backcountry users in the South Coast and Vancouver Island regions Monday afternoon.

The warning says that forecasters are concerned about a buried weak layer that is generally not found in this warmer climate.

Recent snowfall has put a greater load on this layer, which means it is deeper in the snowpack. Avalanche Canada says when the weak layer is triggered, the resulting avalanche could be deadly.

“This persistent weak layer is a concern because it is not typical for this region,” said Avalanche Canada forecaster Kate Devine.

“In the rugged terrain of the North Shore Mountains and the popular backcountry areas of Vancouver Island, there are lots of places where this layer is a really big problem.”

Backcountry users are advised to check regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche.ca and to carry essential rescue gear, including a transceiver, probe and shovel.

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