Historical Incidents

Incident Summary

Mt Lawson
Location Description
50.77610 °, 115.18460 °
2500 m
A solo scrambler triggered a loose wet avalanche while plunge-stepping on descent of Mt Lawson at an unknown time on May 23, 2016. The subject was reported as overdue on the morning of May 24. Rescue crews flew to the scene and observed the subject's tracks entering a size 2.0 avalanche in close proximity to the normal route on the NE face of Mt Lawson. From the air search no clues were visible. An aerial RECCO search was performed with no significant hits. Rescuers assessed the scene further and decided to deploy explosives in the start zones above the incident site before exposing rescuers on the ground. Ten bags of explosives were placed in the overhead start zones resulting in several size 2.0 loose wet avalanches, some of which over ran existing avalanche debris in the gully. Public Safety Specialists and Conservation Officers from Kananaskis Country, along with the Banff National Park Dog Handler and avalanche search dog were flown to a safe zone on a buttress adjacent to the avalanche path. As rescue crews began the search, the deceased subject's right knee was just barely visible above the snow surface. The subject had initiated the slide at approximately 2500m ASL and was carried just under 500m vertical before he was critically buried in a gully feature. Burial depth was an average of 50cm. Subject was buried head down and on his back with his ice axe still attached to his wrist by a leash. Extensive trauma was evident to head and legs. It is unknown if subject was wearing a helmet at the time of the avalanche, but one was not found with him.


Date/TimeSizeTypeTriggerElevationAspectSlab widthSlab Thickness
2016-05-23 00:002LS2500 mne--


Present TempMax TempMin Temp24hr TrendWind SpeedWind DirectionSky ConditionPrecipitation Type & Intensity

Weather Comment: The recovery did not occur until the day after the avalanche. Rescue crews were not aware of the accident on the day that it occurred. Weather on the day of the event was mostly cloudy with intermittent showers and/or flurries.


Snowpack24hr SnowStorm SnowStorm Date
--40 cm-

Snowpack Comment: A 3 day storm had deposited up to 40cm of snow in the Alpine. The incident occurred on the third day of the storm as it tapered off. Numerous Na oose wet avalanches up to size 2.5 were observed on the day of the recovery (one day after the incident occurred). The rescue team used 10 bags (12.5kg) of ANFO in the start zones above the accident site to protect the site for rescuers. This Xh work produced several size 2.0 loose wet avalanches, some of which over ran the site were the subject was recovered.


Document DateTitleSource
2016-05-24Side-view scene photo of Mt Lawson fatal avalancheJeremy Mackenzie - Kananaskis Country Public Safetyview
2016-05-24Scene photo of Mt Lawson fatal avalanche indicentJeremy Mackenzie - Kananaskis Country Public Safetyview