RESCUERS AIR-LIFT SKIERS FROM COLUMBIA ICEFIELDS PHOTOS BY VALERIE DOMAINE
Rescue technicians assisted two men in life-threatening situations in separate incidents on the Columbia Icefields. On April 3, at approximately 12 p.m. Parks Canada dispatchers received a call that a skier had fallen into a crevasse on the Athabasca Glacier. Six days later, first responders learned that another man was suffering from severe chest pains and was in need of assistance. Jasper National Park media relations said that on April 3 a 55-year-old man from Calgary fell into a glacier after getting off-route during a ski expedition on the Athabasca Glacier. His party had intended to ski onto the Columbia Icefields, according to Parks Canada officials. When the skiers attempted to avoid the large serac hazards, they veered directly into an area with a high propensity of crevasses.
The group leader, who was carrying, but not attached to, a rope, took an eight metre plunge into a crack in the glacier. “His friend lowered [a rope] and secured him to the wall with an ice screw,” media relations’ Steve Young reported. Rescue officials attended the scene and extracted the man, bringing him to the surface of the glacier. Responders attended to his broken leg before they packaged him in a Bauman Bag (single point suspension stretcher) and air-lifted him via heli-sling. He was sent to hospital via EMS.
On April 9, dispatch received a call that a man had become severely ill while descending from the Columbia Icefields. The ski tourer, who belonged to a party of four, was unable to self-evacuate and was reporting bad chest pains, Young said. “He was suffering from effects of altitude,” he said. Pulmonary edema is a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs. The fluid collects in the numerous air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. The victim was a 29-year-old male. A helicopter was dispatched from Golden at 5:30 p.m. The operation was wrapped up approximately an hour and a half later.