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More avalanche deaths in BC


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Yet another year, and yet another batch of dead snowmobilers. This time, it's self-styled "extreme athletes" participating in the "Big Iron Shootout", an annual gathering of dimwits with high-performance snowmobiles.

Dimwits? Well, yes. Every media outlet in BC has been informing us of the unprecedented avalanche risk. Even those of us who have no interest in going into the high country knew that there was extreme risk of avalanche.

Just now listening to one of the survivors on the radio, saying:

"Well, it's an extreme sport, and there's a risk... usually when the avalanche risk is high that's when the quality of experience is the best."

As he goes along he explains that they knew about the avalanche risk and says that they were willing to take the risk because that's what they love to do and this is when the snow is at its best, and it's no different from anybody else who participates in a dangerous sport.

Maybe so... but when somebody lands on his head coming off a ramp on his BMX or falls off a cliff while rock-climbing, they don't need a massive public search-and-rescue operation to dig survivors out of a mountain. These morons continue to say "we were willing to accept the risk" but as far as I've heard they're not offering to pay back the money that's been spent searching for them and their buddies.

Now... I wouldn't wish harm on anybody, but it's pretty hard to feel sorry for these guys. Maybe next year idiots heading into avalanche country during extreme avalanche warnings should be told to bring a shovel.

-k

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I recall that some ski regions were passing the expense of search and rescue to those who ventured into off limit areas...don't know if it applies here...problem is that would get passed on to the dead peoples family and they're already being punished for their families stupidity...best to have the organizers of the event pay the cost, then they'll need insurance for future events which they will not get or it'll be incredibly expensive...

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Maybe so... but when somebody lands on his head coming off a ramp on his BMX or falls off a cliff while rock-climbing, they don't need a massive public search-and-rescue operation to dig survivors out of a mountain. These morons continue to say "we were willing to accept the risk" but as far as I've heard they're not offering to pay back the money that's been spent searching for them and their buddies.

saw a CBC clip of these guys doing their thing, clearly a suspect class unto themselves. Actually, some of the S&R efforts and related costs for climbers can be quite significant... and there are different perspectives on charging those rescued... I had a buddy who used to volunteer with North Shore; their policy is one very regimented against charging for their services: Why Not Charge For Rescues?

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saw a CBC clip of these guys doing their thing, clearly a suspect class unto themselves. Actually, some of the S&R efforts and related costs for climbers can be quite significant... and there are different perspectives on charging those rescued... I had a buddy who used to volunteer with North Shore; their policy is one very regimented against charging for their services: Why Not Charge For Rescues?

not if it was truely an accident not of the rescued carelessness...plane crash not an issue...surfing in a hurricane, skiing in an avalanche zone they're asking for trouble...
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Kimmy i read the article and all the comments people made, i just don't get it...they all figured it's they're right to do what they want, regardless of the risk it imposses to themselfs and to others...

I wonder how many of those that attended this event , will be there next year....maybe thats all part of the rush getting dug out of the snow...

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As someone who participates in "extreme snow sports" myself, I definitely agree with the opinion that the risk these people undertake is their own choice and their own right. When I go out backcountry skiing or on glacier expeditions with my buddies, we don't expect someone to come rescuing us if something goes wrong. We have our own gear and experience and judgment, which is good enough for most circumstances. If something were to happen, we would do our best to help ourselves. Of course, if someone came to provide assistance, that would be a relief and we would be grateful in such circumstancs, but it is certainly not expected.

Point is, people who enjoy extreme snow sports would go out and do their thing whether or not any rescue personnel and infrastructure were in place or not. They don't go out with the expectation of relying on rescuers. It is society's choice to spend money on rescue services, it is not a "demand" made on society by people who enjoy these activities.

Anyway, that's just my general thoughts on the topic, I don't know about this particular event.

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When I go out backcountry skiing or on glacier expeditions with my buddies, we don't expect someone to come rescuing us if something goes wrong. We have our own gear and experience and judgment, which is good enough for most circumstances. If something were to happen, we would do our best to help ourselves. Of course, if someone came to provide assistance, that would be a relief and we would be grateful in such circumstancs, but it is certainly not expected.

When you say "we" do you mean the participants? What about your families? You as participants may not expect search and rescue to come to your aid in case of a disaster. But I would expect your families would put enormous pressure on the authorities to come to your aid because they care about you and your well being. Also members of the general public are usually sympathetic in life and death situations and IMO in the heat of emotions they would be revolted if swift action was not taken to save you, regardless of the recklessness of your chosen sport.

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Also members of the general public are usually sympathetic in life and death situations and IMO in the heat of emotions they would be revolted if swift action was not taken to save you, regardless of the recklessness of your chosen sport.

That's exactly what I said in my second paragraph (society's choice). Members of the general public, that is, other than the participants in the activity, would be, as you say, "revolted if swift action" was not taken. Thus, governments establish these services to appease the general public's desire for "swift action" in such circumstances. The reason money is spent on search and rescue is because the public demands it, not because the participants in the sport do (with the occasional exception like those Quebec skiers who trashed our SAR service for not being good enough). Thus, who is really to blame for costs incurred? The people that are out enjoying the outdoors, expecting nothing from anyone, or the people yelling at government to create programs?

Edited by Bonam
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As someone who participates in "extreme snow sports" myself, I definitely agree with the opinion that the risk these people undertake is their own choice and their own right. When I go out backcountry skiing or on glacier expeditions with my buddies, we don't expect someone to come rescuing us if something goes wrong. We have our own gear and experience and judgment, which is good enough for most circumstances. If something were to happen, we would do our best to help ourselves. Of course, if someone came to provide assistance, that would be a relief and we would be grateful in such circumstancs, but it is certainly not expected.

Point is, people who enjoy extreme snow sports would go out and do their thing whether or not any rescue personnel and infrastructure were in place or not. They don't go out with the expectation of relying on rescuers. It is society's choice to spend money on rescue services, it is not a "demand" made on society by people who enjoy these activities.

Anyway, that's just my general thoughts on the topic, I don't know about this particular event.

Bull

Then you should leave a letter with the local police telling them that you don't want anyone to risk their necks coming to get you, because unlike you, they have no choice as to whether they come looking for you. It is easy to say something like that when you know it is not going to happen.

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On the contrary by far the highest chance is if something happens out while we're in the middle of nowhere, no one could possibly know and get there in time to do anything useful about it. Going back to the avalanche scenario, if someone is buried and none of the members of the party can dig the person out within a few minutes, they will suffocate. Certainly by the time Search and Rescue could know about something have gone wrong and be there, it will be far too late for them to do anything, either the party will have succeeded in extracting the individual or they will have failed and he/she will be dead.

Any group of people that heads out into the back country should be prepared to take care of themselves, and most of them are.

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On the contrary by far the highest chance is if something happens out while we're in the middle of nowhere, no one could possibly know and get there in time to do anything useful about it. Going back to the avalanche scenario, if someone is buried and none of the members of the party can dig the person out within a few minutes, they will suffocate. Certainly by the time Search and Rescue could know about something have gone wrong and be there, it will be far too late for them to do anything, either the party will have succeeded in extracting the individual or they will have failed and he/she will be dead.

Any group of people that heads out into the back country should be prepared to take care of themselves, and most of them are.

Then they should leave a waiver with the local authorities, otherwise they are full of it because they know someone will come looking for them because they have no choice. You chose to do what you do, they don't have that option other than quiting their job.

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Why should they want to quit their jobs? For the most part people who work in SAR have a passion for their work and love what they do. If they didn't like those jobs and didn't accept the risks that go with them they wouldn't be in that line of work. They make the same choice about doing something with a given level of risk as do the people who go out into the back country. In fact very many SAR people are outdoor/back country enthusiasts themselves, they need to be to have the skills needed to work in SAR.

Sorry but you just sound like someone that is totally disconnected from the whole issue. Have you ever even been on a mountain with snow on it, besides a ski resort?

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Why should they want to quit their jobs? For the most part people who work in SAR have a passion for their work and love what they do. If they didn't like those jobs and didn't accept the risks that go with them they wouldn't be in that line of work. They make the same choice about doing something with a given level of risk as do the people who go out into the back country. In fact very many SAR people are outdoor/back country enthusiasts themselves, they need to be to have the skills needed to work in SAR.

Sorry but you just sound like someone that is totally disconnected from the whole issue. Have you ever even been on a mountain with snow on it, besides a ski resort?

That may be true but you are the one responsible for them having to put their lives at risk. You. What do you say to their family if one of them gets killed looking for you because of a decision you made?

Edited by Wilber
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I wouldn't have made a decision to have search and rescue go somewhere. The person working in search and rescue chose to work in that field. The government chose to fund search and rescue programs. The only choice I would have made was to go and enjoy the outdoors. We live in a (somewhat) free country and so far we are not barred from enjoying the outdoors as we see fit.

Anyway you are just making this whole issue ridiculous. Many types of jobs involve risk. Search and rescue is far from the riskiest. People sometimes die in the line of duty whether it is in the police or as fireman or in the army or yes, occasionally (though pretty rarely), in search and rescue. That is the nature of those jobs, and people who work in those fields choose to accept the risks that go along with them.

Edited by Bonam
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I didn't make a decision to have search and rescue go somewhere. The person working in search and rescue chose to work in that field. The government chose to fund search and rescue programs. The only choice I would have made was to go and enjoy the outdoors. We live in a (somewhat) free country and so far we are not barred from enjoying the outdoors as we see fit.

Anyway you are just making this whole issue ridiculous. Many types of jobs involve risk. Search and rescue is far from the riskiest. People sometimes die in the line of duty whether it is in the police or as fireman or in the army or yes, occasionally (though pretty rarely), in search and rescue. That is the nature of those jobs, and people who work in those fields choose to accept the risks that go along with them.

Are you saying you have no responsibility toward those who may have to accept the cost and risk of dealing with your actions? If so, put up or shut up and put it in writing because they will be held legally responsible for their actions even if you aren't for yours.

My son is a cop. I've had a uniformed police officer come to my door at 2 AM when I knew he was working to tell me he was in hospital. I know what that feels like, it ain't good and it doesn't justify the actions of the jackass who was responsible for him being there whether the jackass meant it or not.

In this case we are talking about an organized event in an area where there were severe avalanche warnings. Accountability has to start somewhere.

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Are you saying you have no responsibility toward those who may have to accept the cost and risk of dealing with your actions? If so, put up or shut up and put it in writing because they will be held legally responsible for their actions even if you aren't for yours.

My son is a cop. I've had a uniformed police officer come to my door at 2 AM when I knew he was working to tell me he was in hospital. I know what that feels like, it ain't good and it doesn't justify the actions of the jackass who was responsible for him being there whether the jackass meant it or not.

The "jackass" who puts a cop in the hospital is, presumably, a violent criminal. Are you comparing a person who goes out to enjoy the outdoors with a violent criminal? Seriously?

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The "jackass" who puts a cop in the hospital is, presumably, a violent criminal. Are you comparing a person who goes out to enjoy the outdoors with a violent criminal? Seriously?

Actually, it was just a guy who ran a light because he thought there was no one else on the road at that time of the morning and T boned the kids patrol car. He wasn't drunk or anything. He made a bad decision and someone else paid. When the door bell rings in the middle of the night and you see a uniformed officer at the door, nothing good is running through your mind.

If someone dies or is hurt as a result of your actions, does it really matter if you were enjoying those actions or whether you meant to do harm? I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to enjoy the outdoors but I am saying that you can't deny any responsibility for your actions and what happens to others just because you were enjoying the outdoors. The victims and their families won't give a crap about your enjoyment.

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One, running a red light is illegal, whether there's anyone else around or not.

Two, you keep referring to "your actions" and "you" (meaning me) when I have in fact never needed search and rescue. A big part of enjoying the outdoors is being responsible, knowing the risks, and doing things safely.

Three, like I said, it is not my prerogative that we have search and rescue programs, and it is not my responsibility that search and rescue people go out to "search and rescue people". Duh. That's they're job.

Also I find your use of the term "victim" in reference to search and rescue workers funny. These are not victims, these are people doing what they love to do.

Now, you can debate the wisdom (or lack thereof) of going into an area with a severe avalanche warning, and you can certainly slam people if they then demand/complain about search and rescue services (like the example I mentioned earlier). But you cannot condemn people for going out into the mountains.

Edited by Bonam
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Now, you can debate the wisdom (or lack thereof) of going into an area with a severe avalanche warning, and you can certainly slam people if they then demand/complain about search and rescue services (like the example I mentioned earlier). But you cannot condemn people for going out into the mountains.

I don't blame people for going out into the mountains. I think people should have that freedom. I do expect them to put some thought into the effect their actions may have on others because whether they like it or not, their actions do effect others. When they don't, I think they should be held accountable for results, not just to them personally. Whether or not it is your prerogative to have search and rescue services is irrelevant because if something happens to you, they will come, therefore your actions can determine whether someone else must risk their neck. That is the reality of the world you live in.

We have all kinds of occupations where it is someone's "job' to clean up the messes of others, that doesn't mean it is OK to make the mess in the first place.

In this case we had people knowingly going into a designated avalanche area and in many cases taking their kids with them. If someone is looking for a Darwin Award, for gods sake at least leave the kids at home.

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I do expect them to put some thought into the effect their actions may have on others because whether they like it or not, their actions do effect others.

The only people who are affected by the actions of people going on an outdoor expedition are that of the other party members, since the group can be very reliant on each other, and their family members, who may worry about them. Everything else is up to government, society, politics... things that I don't give a damn about while on a trip. Guess we'll just have to disagree since we obviously hold incompatible views on this topic.

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As someone who participates in "extreme snow sports" myself, I definitely agree with the opinion that the risk these people undertake is their own choice and their own right. When I go out backcountry skiing or on glacier expeditions with my buddies, we don't expect someone to come rescuing us if something goes wrong. We have our own gear and experience and judgment, which is good enough for most circumstances. If something were to happen, we would do our best to help ourselves. Of course, if someone came to provide assistance, that would be a relief and we would be grateful in such circumstancs, but it is certainly not expected.

Yes it is your choice and as it is not again'st the law it's within your rights to be in these areas. The government has highly suggested via warnings that these areas should be avoided, for public safety and for the most part they are...

You've said that when you and your buddies go into the back country you pack your own gear and rely on your experience and judgement to make it back, I'm assuming that when your judgement and experience tells you that conditions are unsafe you return or don't go at all....I also assume that you don't expose family, kids and friends, to the same risk..It is after all your choice and your risk....

But this case is not the same.... this case is about the exact opposite, they knew the risk was extreme, they knew there was a very good chance of this happening , hence why they where there....but they took it a step further and made it into an event, and invited spectators friends and family...Was the risk explained to all of them....did everyone have the right equipment, did they have the same experience and judgement to make the correct choice....

And while you may not expect any rescue attempt to be made, One is made for everyone that is reported missing, like it or not someone is going to come looking for you, sooner or later...be it to find you alive or retrieve your body but they are coming...they don't have a choice and while they are paid to do so, your decision that you make to risk it all, is going to impact they're lives as well...they depend on all of us using common sense, judgement, experience to minimize that risk.

Point is, people who enjoy extreme snow sports would go out and do their thing whether or not any rescue personnel and infrastructure were in place or not. They don't go out with the expectation of relying on rescuers. It is society's choice to spend money on rescue services, it is not a "demand" made on society by people who enjoy these activities.

Anyway, that's just my general thoughts on the topic, I don't know about this particular event.

Mother Nature is unforgiving, she needs to be respected, or she will quickly snuff out your life...this entire case is seeing how far mother nature could be pushed....kind of like swimming in shark infested waters with dead fish tied to you...or jumping without a reserve chute ...you call it extreme sports i call it not being responsable....kind of russian roulette like...

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I don't blame people for going out into the mountains. I think people should have that freedom. I do expect them to put some thought into the effect their actions may have on others because whether they like it or not, their actions do effect others. When they don't, I think they should be held accountable for results, not just to them personally. Whether or not it is your prerogative to have search and rescue services is irrelevant because if something happens to you, they will come, therefore your actions can determine whether someone else must risk their neck. That is the reality of the world you live in.

we have an obvious disconnect here with Bonam championing the rights of able/prepared back-country enthusiasts with those types that jump the out-of-bounds barriers on ski-hills... or those that purposely enter avalanche areas in the name of so-called extreme 'sports'. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter the circumstances that cause an injury, that cause the need for rescue... or retrieval. I believe the main point the OP raised was whether or not rescue/retrieval costs should be passed on to those rescued... or to the families of those retrieved. Perhaps the champion of the rights of able/prepared back-country enthusiasts might like to comment if he is prepared to accept the rescue costs associated with his possible rescue... accept the responsibility for possible injury/death of those rescuing him. On the latter, to suggest it's "their job" seems a convenient 'out'...

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Yes it is your choice and as it is not again'st the law it's within your rights to be in these areas. The government has highly suggested via warnings that these areas should be avoided, for public safety and for the most part they are...

Government warnings are very often (though not always) overly cautious. It's a little like the whole "boy who cried wolf" scenario. Often they specify things like high fire risk and tell you you can't have a fire anywhere in the back country, when, for example, if you are in the middle of a huge stone field, it would clearly be safe to do so. Sometimes they put out avalanche warnings in the same way, canvassing a whole area with warnings when it is one specific slope that is of concern.

Now, obviously, in this case that wasn't the case and the particular area the snowmobilers were in had had several avalanches, again, just making a general observation on why people often ignore government warnings of this type.

You've said that when you and your buddies go into the back country you pack your own gear and rely on your experience and judgement to make it back, I'm assuming that when your judgement and experience tells you that conditions are unsafe you return or don't go at all....I also assume that you don't expose family, kids and friends, to the same risk..It is after all your choice and your risk....

That's correct.

But this case is not the same.... this case is about the exact opposite, they knew the risk was extreme, they knew there was a very good chance of this happening , hence why they where there....but they took it a step further and made it into an event, and invited spectators friends and family...Was the risk explained to all of them....did everyone have the right equipment, did they have the same experience and judgement to make the correct choice....

Apparently not. It is still, however, the responsibility of each individual that went to have been aware of the risks. Of course, if the organizers of the event misrepresented the risks to the people who attended then that should definitely be looked into.

And while you may not expect any rescue attempt to be made, One is made for everyone that is reported missing, like it or not someone is going to come looking for you, sooner or later...be it to find you alive or retrieve your body but they are coming...they don't have a choice and while they are paid to do so, your decision that you make to risk it all, is going to impact they're lives as well...they depend on all of us using common sense, judgement, experience to minimize that risk.

No it is not my responsibility to consider what someone else will do "whether I like it or not" in this case. Let's look at another example to better illustrate this.

Is it the fault of some random Afghan civilian that, whether they like it or not, troops from around the world have been sent into Afghanistan to "rescue them" and deal with the dangers there? If a soldier dies in Afghanistan, do we blame the civilians that that soldier was trying to help? Those civilians did not decide that the soldiers should be sent in, governments around the world did. They did not cause the death of the soldier, the Taliban or other terrorists did. The civilian is free of blame even though they indirectly "caused" the situation by not themselves rising up and replacing their government with a better one (that would have led to them not being perceived to be needing "rescue" by international forces). The situation is exactly analogous (though I expect some will disagree with my comparison).

Mother Nature is unforgiving, she needs to be respected, or she will quickly snuff out your life...this entire case is seeing how far mother nature could be pushed....kind of like swimming in shark infested waters with dead fish tied to you...or jumping without a reserve chute ...you call it extreme sports i call it not being responsable....kind of russian roulette like...

Reading the article it doesn't sound like they were specifically out to trigger avalanches, so your comparisons aren't exactly ideal. That being said, it does sound like their evaluation of the risk was flawed, that is, they made a mistake. Unless someone has evidence to show otherwise, it is nothing more sinister than that. Obviously, if it can be shown that the organizers purposefully misrepresented the risks and brought a bunch of inexperienced people (spectators and family) to a location where they knew these people would likely get killed by avalanches, that would be a serious charge. But unless there is evidence to suggest that is the case, then it was simply an honest mistake and an unfortunate day for these guys.

Edited by Bonam
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Government warnings are very often (though not always) overly cautious. It's a little like the whole "boy who cried wolf" scenario. Often they specify things like high fire risk and tell you you can't have a fire anywhere in the back country, when, for example, if you are in the middle of a huge stone field, it would clearly be safe to do so. Sometimes they put out avalanche warnings in the same way, canvassing a whole area with warnings when it is one specific slope that is of concern.

Now, obviously, in this case that wasn't the case and the particular area the snowmobilers were in had had several avalanches, again, just making a general observation on why people often ignore government warnings of this type.

Avalanches are extremely common this time of year in southern BC, even without what basically has been one of the mildest winters on record. It was nothing more than pure stupidity to go up there. Apparently a lot of guys knew it, because a lot of folks stayed away, but you will always have a core of intellectually challenged adrenalin addicts.

Of course, the reaction of the BC government is typical urbanite stupidity. Why, let's set up a permit system! The very notion that in a province that is well over 90% back country could enforce any kind of permit system is ludicrous.

The solution is simple. Charge anyone rescued $2000 an hour for their rescue (if they're dead, charge their families that). Anyone can avoid this by signing a waiver, in which case let their corpses freeze up there. If the next of kin want to get the remains of the moron down off the mountain, they can bloody well pay for it.

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The solution is simple. Charge anyone rescued $2000 an hour for their rescue (if they're dead, charge their families that). Anyone can avoid this by signing a waiver, in which case let their corpses freeze up there. If the next of kin want to get the remains of the moron down off the mountain, they can bloody well pay for it.

Reasonable, but wouldn't really work. What happens when search and rescue workers find a party of people in trouble, but those people explicitly say that they will not pay? Are the SAR people just gonna walk away and leave them to die?

Really it just generates a bunch of extra legal stuff to worry about. Money will end up in the hands of lawyers rather than anywhere else.

Anyways, I gotta finish packing, off on a trip myself in an hour :)

Edited by Bonam
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