SilverStar Mountain Resort experienced two inbound avalanches yesterday, one that has critically injured a 42 year old male airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital.
The avalanche on the back side of the mountain at Putnam Creek was an isothermal slide on black diamond terrain, the first reported isothermal slide for the resort. Isothermals slides are often found in spring conditions with warming temperatures.
SilverStar Mountain Resort closed for the afternoon after the slide at Putnam Creek and a smaller slide under the gondola on the front side of the mountain. The resort re-opened today, Thursday, however the Putnam Creek area remains closed with crews in place assessing the snowpack for now. Some south and southwest facing terrain east of the gondola also remains closed including the Alpine Meadows Chair.
The re-opening of any closed terrain will be subject to an investigation of the avalanche consultants with SilverStar ski patrol . The Zone Carpet, Adventure Centre Carpet, Tube Town Carpet remain open with The Comet Express, Des Schumann Summit Express Gondola, Silver Queen and Silverwoods Express also operating.
British Columbia has experienced significant warming in the past week and Avalanche Canada issued a warning for backcountry skiers in all mountains.
“This is the first big warming to hit our snowpack, which is still fairly complex and winter-like,” explains Senior Avalanche Forecaster Grant Helgeson.
“Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize. The temperatures are forecast to increase substantially this week, with no nighttime cooling. This will weaken the snowpack on all aspects, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches as well making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers.”
It is not yet known where the injured man is from, whether he was caught by the slide or triggered the slide and whether he was skiing or snowboarding at the time.