Two Fort Saskatchewan residents narrowly avoided a fatal avalanche that took three lives on Wednesday (Mar. 1).
A group of nine people and one instructor were caught in an avalanche while heli-skiing near Panorama Mountain Resort in British Columbia. Four were seriously injured, three made it out unharmed, and another three died.
Fort Saskatchewan resident Hannah Stolz and her father Rick were supposed to be on that trip, as part of Hannah's 23rd birthday.
"We thought it would be a nice birthday treat if we planned [the trip] around that," said Hannah.
The pair were originally supposed to be on the heli-skiing trip that Wednesday but decided to go on her birthday the day before.
"My dad was offered Tuesday or Wednesday," said Stolz. "He decided to go with Tuesday instead, which is the only reason that we weren't there on Wednesday."
Stolz also believes that she had met the skiers who were caught in the avalanche.
"One of the other groups that were in the lodge with us that went on a different helicopter was a group of Germans," Stolz said. "I can't say for certain that it was the same group, but we do know that the people that were killed were from Germany."
Stolz said that it was a seemingly normal Wednesday but, just after noon, they noticed more helicopters than usual in the sky. That evening they heard the news.
"It was terrifying, it was really freaky," Stolz said. "Nobody wants to get caught in an avalanche, but you know that it's a risk. There's a reason there's so much safety stuff beforehand."
Despite having missed the fateful ski trip, Stolz said the close call has done a number on her and her father.
"I missed it by a day and by pure luck. It's crazy. Never thought I'd be in that situation."
There have been 12 avalanche deaths in B.C. in 2023, already making it one of the province's worst years for avalanche-related deaths.