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Backcountry skiers, commercial driver forced to overnight at Kootenay Pass Summit

YRB contractors were busy this past week clearing snow from Highway 3 on Kootenay Pass. — Facebook photo

A family backcountry skiing near the Kootenay Pass Summit Tuesday was forced to spend the night on top of the Kootenay Pass Summit after a natural avalanche closed Highway 3 in both directions.

The part of the highway between Salmo and Creston had been closed for hours due to the recent winter storm that dropped huge amounts of snow on highways in the southern part of the province.

A Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson told The Nelson Daily the family was joined by a commercial truck driver and three Yellowhead Road & Bridge workers caught in avalanches that closed Highway 3.

“The family had returned from a backcountry stay to their parked car to find Highway 3 had already closed due to a natural avalanche,” MOTI said.

“The people stayed at the Kootenay Pass bunkhouse, which is equipped with beds, water and some food.”

The stay was, thankfully, only for one night.

“The family and commercial driver were escorted out of the area (Wednesday) afternoon once enough avalanche debris was cleared for safe passage,” MOTI said.

Earlier this week, Environment Canada forecasted a winter storm that was expected to drop upwards of 70 cm of snow on the mountains in the West Kootenay.

Environment Canada once again calling for snow in the forecast as winter conditions continue to hamper the region. Snow is expected to begin Friday with amounts of 10-15 cm expected as well as cooler temperatures.

The driving public is reminded that weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions.

Shift Into Winter reminds drivers to know before you go. Adjust to winter driving behaviour and use winter tires and chains.

Road conditions are available at DriveBC.

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