Beware of skiing on rocky terrain with thin snow cover. The following was posted on Facebook from Kananaskis Public Safety…
On Monday October 19th near the Robertson glacier there was a fatality involving a backcountry skier. Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded to the incident around 1430 hr.
The incident happened due to the low early season snow coverage and related hazards in very low angle ski terrain wherein his skis bottomed out, and he pitched forward into a rocky area suffering severe trauma. The subject was not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. This was not an avalanche incident.
10-30 cm of snow currently exists at treeline and this does not cover the rocks or any of the ground debris, if you do fall in these areas you will likely get hurt. The chance of hitting something and getting injured is quiet high. The days are getting shorter so be aware of darkness setting in. Once its dark, any evacuation is more complicated.
While in the field yesterday forecasters witnessed many loose dry avalanches off steep terrain not running very far but still active, Alpine terrain was getting affected by winds so we suspect slab development to be ongoing in these areas. Consequences of being caught in even a small slid would result in injury due to the lack of snow and the chance of a ride over rocky terrain.
Our condolences go out to those involved,
-Kananaskis Public Safety Team
Yesterday (Oct 20), near the end of my Telephone Loop circuit at West Bragg Creek, I walked down the steep hill on Moose Connector because of debris on the snow surface, along with a possibility of rocks hidden just under the snow surface. To my horror, another skier blasted down the hill at top speed, but fortunately came to no harm. (Perhaps he had previously climbed up the hill and was able to determine that there were no serious hazards.)
In any case, contacting a rock on XC skis at even a striding speed usually results in a head-first fall. At speed, it could cause serious injury, especially since I’ve yet to see a XC skier wearing a helmet! Take extra care when conditions are marginal, even for XC skiing.