No doubt you’ve seen and heard about at least a few of the local accidents that have happened recently, mostly involving avalanches. I thought I would compile a list of articles about the incidents, and some other related articles that have come out in follow up to the tragic events, which discus causes and prevention among other things such as why humans take risks. My heart goes out to all of the friends and families of those who were not lucky enough to escape with their lives in these accidents and I hope they take solace in the fact they died doing what they loved. These events and articles should create safety awareness about respecting ropes, boundaries, avalanche warnings, and the like, and remind you to be prepared for the worst even while inside park boundaries. Also take note that good percentage of the people who got lost or caught in avalanches recently are experienced outdoors men/ women.
Whistler: Things started off Dec 16, with one tower of the Excalibur Gondola partially collapsing, injuring 12 people. Then, on Dec 22, a 17 year old died while snowboarding in an roped-off run after hitting a boulder, despite wearing a helmet. On Christmas Eve, a 37 year old male suffered the same bad luck, this time while skiing on an open run. If all that wasn’t enough, Whistler/ Blackcomb had 3 avalanches over a two day period Dec 31, and Jan 1, claiming 2 more lives. Both were in areas roped off due to avalanche risk.
Seymour Mountain: On Dec 15, a boy scout was air lifted off the mountain after injuring his knee while snowshoeing. On Dec 25, North Shore Rescue (in their usual greatness) managed to find 3 lost skiers while looking for 2 (that’s an 150% success rate!). You can read the blog post from their website for the full story and the CTV article. Next, in a truly amazing story, a lost snowboarder spent 3 nights on the mountain before being rescued. With no one aware that the man was snowboarding that day, the rescue mission started 2 nights after his car was discovered to be abandoned in the Seymour parking lot.
Cypress: Two snowshoers are lucky to be alive after one fell 50 meters off a slope on a nighttime outing, and the other became stuck trying to rescue him in mid-December.
Lynn Valley: A 16 year old girl fell 4 stories down an embankment in Lynn Creek and suffered a serious head injury on Dec 30. She went to the hospital in critical condition but I was unable to find out how she is currently doing.
Fernie: This obviously wasn’t local, but tragically 8 snowmobilers lost their lives in an avalanche while 3 were able to dig themselves free. There is a Globe and Mail article that discusses how modern technology of snowmobiles allows avid riders to access tougher and more isolated terrain than ever before, elevating risks of accidents.
Grouse Mountain: After all this, on Jan 1, four people ignored ski patrol and ducked boundary ropes, launching a rescue mission. Their response is that they did not need rescuing and a lifetime ban from the mountain is too harsh.
Other related articles worth reading:
- Highly trained unpaid volunteers key to search and rescue operations across Canada – These people have a sometimes rewarding, sometimes incredibly frustrating ‘job’. They deserve A LOT of credit for what they do as volunteers.
- Backcountry skiers and snowboarders: reckless adrenalin junkies or naive victims?
- Humans take risks because that’s what we do. – While it’s easy to be angry at those who took the risk of knowingly going out of bounds, or not paying close enough attention to avalanche warnings, or…etc, etc, etc… I think this article does a good job of putting things in another perspective.
Well, that oughta be enough reading for a while, but please learn from these stories. Now that you’re all scared and/ or depressed, I will find some more uplifting stuff to post about later I promise!