Avid skier Trevor Sexsmith has died after being caught in an avalanche on Mount Victoria in Banff National Park on Sunday.
“The thoughts of Parks Canada are with the friends and family of the victim,” said a Parks Canada spokesperson in a release.
“Both Trevor and his partner were experienced skiers prepared for this type of mountain travel, and Trevor was well known in the local skiing community.”
Parks Canada said Sexsmith and his friend had been heading up the mountain, but turned back due to strong wind and poor conditions.
However, it was too late; the avalanche struck as the two men tried to get off the mountain, knocking Sexsmith off a cliff.
Parks Canada were alerted when Sexsmith’s partner managed to reach the viewpoint trail above Plain of Six Glaciers tea house.
Due to the strong winds, Parks Canada were not able to recover Sexsmith’s body until Monday morning.
Sexsmith was used to extreme ski conditions, often travelling to remote areas to ski. He also ran a website dedicated to his skiing trips, Perpetual Ski.
Previous to his trip to Mount Victoria, he had been skiing Jasper National Park up Maligne Lake to the Brazeau Icefield via Warren Creek.
After kayaking and climbing to his destination, he had skiied Mt. Warren and Mt. Brazeau.
Avalanches not common in Fall
Parks Canada says that while avalanches are generally not common in the late Fall, they are always possible where recent snow has not had adequate time to settle.
“Anyone undertaking mountain travel at any time of year, should be aware of and prepared for the avalanche hazard,” said a spokesperson. “People need to have knowledge and equipment to go into avalanche terrain.”
Parks Canada recommends anyone going into avalanche terrain carries a probe, shovel and transceiver – and know how to use them and how to rescue a companion.
People wanting to ski or snowboard in avalanche areas are advised to get Avalanche Safety Training (AST) to understand how to evaluate terrain and risk, and rescue a friend.
As well, they should consult Parks Canada’s daily avalanche forecasts in the winter, to find out if they are in or near avalanche terrain and assess the risk of an avalanche.
“Ultimately each persons’ safety is up to them and their group and they need to use and know how to work with the tools provided to them in order to reduce their risk in the backcountry,” said a Parks Canada spokesperson.