Avalanche deaths prompt officials to review warning system

Parks Canada heads out to retrieve the bodies of a father and son from Montreal, who died while...

Parks Canada heads out to retrieve the bodies of a father and son from Montreal, who died while visiting Lake Louise, near Banff, Alberta on Saturday, March 15,2014. Al Charest/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

Michael Platt, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:07 PM ET

CALGARY -- To an experienced mountaineer, the slide potential would have been obvious.

And with the avalanche danger listed as high, a backcountry veteran would have known to stay clear of the far side of Lake Louise, Alta., where Mount Fairview's snowpack was all too likely to fail.

The warnings were all there, with websites, highway signs and even a dedicated radio bulletin outlining high avalanche danger in Western Canada's mountain parks -- provided you knew to look or listen.

There's certainly no shortage of information about the hazards above, and for seasoned skiers and snowmobilers, there's no excuse in the mountains around Banff National Park.

But what about a boy and his dad, looking for a place to toboggan within sight of their hotel?

And what about a group of new Canadians, following a well-beaten trail in snowshoes, to a place where dozens of Lake Louise visitors hike daily?

With four tourists killed by avalanches in a matter of days, how much warning they might have received is now the vital question.

"It's like a tourist landing in Maui, and the first thing they do is run and jump in the water," said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Parks Canada.

On Saturday afternoon, search dogs located the bodies of a 33-year-old man his 11-year-old son, after the Montrealers failed to check out of Chateau Lake Louise.

The pair were last been seen seven days before, after renting a toboggan from a hotel store and wandering outside to play.

Presumably, they died that same day, buried by a slide at the far end of the picturesque lake -- a place where there were no signs to warn of the avalanche danger.


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