Crevasses claim two lives

Two men died after falling into crevasses during the past week. On Sunday, heli-skiing guide Leonhard Steiner was killed while skiing on the Swanson Glacier, about 65 kilometres southwest of Atlin, BC.

Two men died after falling into crevasses during the past week.

On Sunday, heli-skiing guide Leonhard Steiner was killed while skiing on the Swanson Glacier, about 65 kilometres southwest of Atlin, BC.

Steiner, a 47-year-old Austrian citizen who owned and operated the Atlin-based Klondike Heli-Skiing, was out for the day with another guide and a group of four skiers.

Around 1:30 p.m., when Steiner stopped to take a photo, the snow gave out beneath him and he fell into a deep crevasse.

The group of skiers was immediately returned to Atlin, while the remaining guide stayed on site to assist rescuers.

A Klondike Heli-Skiing employee joined the guide shortly after and the two conducted a descent into the 35-metre-deep crevasse to attempt a rescue.

Unfortunately, Steiner had died in the fall.

The crevasse was only 1.5 metres wide and contained ice overhangs, making it difficult to retrieve the body.

Atlin Search and Rescue along with a Parks Canada rescue team were on route to the scene when poor weather forced them to turn around.

The recovery of Steiner’s body has been delayed until weather conditions improve.

On Thursday of last week, Leonard Watkins also fell into a crevasse.

The 52-year-old resident of Maple Ridge, BC, was out snowmobiling with a dozen friends in the area near Pleasant Camp, just south of the BC-Yukon border.

Watkins was high-marking at the time and, losing control, was forced to abandon his sled. When he jumped off he disappeared beneath the snow.

At 2:25 p.m., the rest of the group used a SPOT satellite tracking device to put out the call for help.

Four members of a Parks Canada rescue team made it to the scene by helicopter and attempted to rescue Watkins.

The team descended into the ice and made it within 10 metres of the body, but weren’t able to get any closer.

However, they were able to assess that Watkins had died in the fall.

Although there is hope that both bodies will eventually be recovered, it’s not safe to do so at this time, according to Shane DeMeyer of the BC Coroner’s Office.

“We can’t risk somebody’s life to retrieve somebody who is already deceased.”

Contact Chris Oke at chriso@yukon-news.com

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