An avalanche near Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park (above) in the far northwestern corner of B.C. killed two men from Alaska. Both were 21-years-old. A third man survived. (B.C. Parks)

Two snowboarders die in B.C. avalanche

The first avalanche fatalities of the winter in Canada have been reported, in British Columbia.

Two 21-year-old men from Alaska were snowboarding when the avalanche hit Monday afternoon in northwestern B.C.’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, near Haines Summit.

A third man survived.

Daniel Dreiseitl of Whitehorse told CBC News he was heading home after a day of skiing when he noticed a man waving his hands about 200 metres off the road.

“We clearly saw that an avalanche was triggered, that there was a pile of snow beneath the hill and one man trying to dig the snow,” Dreiseitl said.

“When we looked in those holes we saw two bodies.

The accident occurred Monday in northwestern B.C. The victims were from nearby Haines, Alaska. An average of 11 people die every winter in Canada as a result of avalanches.(CBC News)

“We checked the pulse of one of the bodies and the temperature and it was already cold and no pulse at all.”

Both the victims and the survivor were friends from Haines, Alaska.

Dreiseitl told CBC News the survivor said the avalanche came down two hours earlier after he and his two friends had hiked up the hill with the intent of snowboarding down.

“He mentioned that he saw some cracks in the snow but they didn’t pay attention to that. Then when they were standing and chatting and looking around, it was at that time that they triggered the avalanche,” Dreiseitl said.

Avalanche Canada’s Yukon spokesman James Minifie told CBC News the avalanche risk in the area had been increasing since Christmas Eve.

“We’ve had a lot of snow and wind and temperatures have come up to toward zero on multiple occasions,” he said. “So all these things combined have caused a spike in avalanche danger.”

An average of 11 people die annually in Canada as a result of avalanches–about 80 per cent of the fatalities are in B.C.

With files from CBC (Karin Larsen), CP (Laura Kane)

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