Whistler RCMP say a woman has died after she became trapped in a tree well while skiing in the Seventh Heaven area of Blackcomb Mountain.
The woman and her husband were skiing together Tuesday morning when they became separated in a wooded area. She was reported missing and a search ensued, and she was found by a member of the public shortly after.
The woman was in a tree well and was unresponsive. Blackcomb ski patrol, a mountain doctor, and a nurse practitioner tried to resuscitate her, but weren’t successful.
She was pronounced dead on the mountain. Few details are available at this time.
Deaths caused by tree wells
Tree wells form when snow falls around a tree and creates a deep well around the trunk that skiers and snowboarders can fall and become trapped in. Such formations are responsible for nearly a quarter of all downhill skiing and snowboarding deaths in North America.
When the trapped individual attempts to move or even free themselves by climbing out of the well, more snow falls around them and into the well. It reduces their ability to move even further and constricts their ability to breath properly.
Deaths are most common when an individual falls into a tree well head first and is not able to take off their ski or snowboard equipment. In this scenario, skiers and snowboarders can suffocate from being buried in snow head first, especially if they are knocked unconscious after crashing into a tree trunk.
Here is a safety demonstration video of what to do when stuck in a tree well: