Spray Lakes Alberta avalanche

The massive avalanche in the Spray Lakes region (above) was likely triggered by the snowshoer. Photo: Courtesy of davebloggs007/Flickr

Officials with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have confirmed that a 55-year-old snowshoer died in Alberta, Canada after being swept up in a massive avalanche in the Tent Ridge area of Spray Lakes Provincial Park on Sunday.

Police in Canmore, Alberta told The Canadian Press that they received word on Sunday about a local resident who failed to return from a snowshoe expedition earlier that day.

“We had an idea of where he was planning to go that day,” Jeremy Mackenzie, public safety specialist with Alberta Parks, told the Calgary Herald, noting that they were told the snowshoer was heading toward Tent Ridge. “We found his vehicle [Sunday night] but due to nightfall, as well as avalanche risk, we couldn't go out.”

A subsequent air search on Monday showed an avalanche debris field. After looking around the avalanche field, they found signs of the missing snowshoer.

“We did discover evidence of a single snowshoe trail that led right into the avalanche debris,” Mackenzie told the Calgary Herald. He noted that investigators were able to determine the snowshoer likely triggered the avalanche.

RELATED: Snowboarder survives avalanche he triggered, faces prosecution

According to Mackenzie, the snowshoer wasn’t equipped with an avalanche transponder or any type of avalanche emergency equipment, which he called a disturbing trend.

“It does seem to be a majority trend among snowshoers,” he said. “They don't seem to be as actively involved in using avalanche safety equipment nor do they seem as well informed — compared to the ski touring crowd that we see in our area. They are very well aware.”

The RCMP has yet to release the name of the snowshoer.

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