Nine of the 15 skiers staying at the Kokanee Glacier cabin when a man died in an avalanche this week have now been flown out.
Several helicopter loads of people and equipment landed at the Nelson airport this morning. The skiers declined comment but suggested they may issue a statement later.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel says they would like to speak to members of the group as part of the on-going coroner’s investigation, and offer them help.
“I don’t know how victimized they might be. We have a responsibility to provide them with assistance, or direct them to counselling,” Seibel says.
Communication with the group while they were at the cabin was limited. Seibel says the coroner spoke with them via satellite phone, as did one officer. However, Seibel was unable to reach them himself.
Range Helicopters of Nelson holds the contract with the Alpine Club of Canada to move visitors in and out of the cabin.
“Every Saturday there’s a guest change,” says pilot and co-proprietor Vic Corrie. “That goes until May. Generally it’s a group of 12, but they got permission to do 15.”
Corrie says BC Parks normally limits the cabin to a dozen people at a time, but it’s possible to get a special dispensation for more.
He says it usually takes four trips to fly everyone in, but it depends on how much equipment they bring.
Visitors enter a lottery to stay at the cabin. This group flew in late Saturday and would have gone through an orientation. The fatal slide occurred Sunday during their first full day of skiing.
Because arriving and departing is weather-dependent, Corrie says a group going in might get shortchanged by a day, while a group coming out might stay an extra day.
“It’s safety driven. You only go when the weather’s good enough,” he says.
Range took over the helicopter contract this year, which was previously held by High Terrain.