Weather hampers Alberta rescue of skier who fell down crevasse

Lake Louise in Alberta



CALGARY -- Poor weather Monday again prevented a helicopter from getting a search team to the spot where a B.C. man fell down a backcountry crevasse.

The man, identified as Mark Taylor, a city manager in Abbotsford, B.C., was skiing the Wapta Traverse on the Waputik Icefield northwest of Lake Louise, Alta., with his daughter and a man in his 60s when the three were caught in whiteout conditions last Wednesday, said Brad White, a visitor safety specialist with Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks.

Taylor, believed to be in his 50s, is the general manager of parks recreation and culture for the City of Abbotsford.

In a statement issued Monday, Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark and his family and we respect their need for privacy during this difficult time."

Taylor fell down a crevasse, possibly 35 metres as suggested by an initial beacon reading, while the other two skiers managed to dig out a snow cave and were rescued Friday, White said.

"We had a helicopter up there this morning and couldn't get anywhere near it," he said, adding crews know exactly where they need to go.

"We know within a few feet where he fell in -- the survivors managed to mark fairly close to where he fell in."

The helicopter was also tied up for parts of Monday doing avalanche control work, White said.

It was also unable to get to the crevasse site in the afternoon.

"We were there, ready to go, but the weather wouldn't allow it," White said, adding he hopes a crew can reach the crevasse Tuesday, as things were expected to clear up.

Once a crew can actually get there, searching will be a challenge, White said, adding crews will be equipped with a winch, compressor, pneumatic chisels and glycol.

"Snow that's bridged on either side of the crevasse can fall in on you, ice can fall in on you," he said of the dangers to searchers.

It will likely also be very narrow at the bottom, he added.

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