Grant Statham is a Visitor Safety Specialist with Parks Canada in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. His team is responsible for the highway avalanche control, public avalanche forecasting and search and rescue response throughout those parks. Grant has been a climber, avalanche forecaster and IFMGA mountain guide for 30 years and has been with Parks Canada for 17 of those. He moonlights as an avalanche risk consultant, adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University, and an Arc’teryx brand ambassador.
The Howse Peak Search and Recovery Operation
On April 17, 2019, Parks Canada received a report of overdue climbers on the East Face of Howse Peak, a 1300 m, highly technical alpine climb located 60 km north of Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Over the next five days, Parks Canada undertook an intensive search and rescue operation through a major avalanche cycle to ultimately find and recover the three climbers. All three were members of The North Face global athlete team and media coverage was intensive, with over 1000 media request by day 3. This presentation will cover the search planning and operations, media strategy, critical incident debriefing, and subsequent investigation which used GPS coordinates from the climbers’ cameras to ultimately figure out what happened on Howse Peak.