Opinion

Be prepared in the Elk Valley backcountry

Living in the Elk Valley, it makes sense to enjoy what the area brings every winter – endless snow. The lure of the backcountry powder is too much to resist for many sledders, skiers and snowboarders.

But a spate of incidents in recent weeks across B.C. highlights the fact that not all backcountry enthusiasts are well prepared for their adventure.

The RCMP and search and rescue authorities across the province are having to continue to warn people about the dangers of venturing into uncharted and out of bounds territory because of these recent incidents.

A 40-year-old man was rescued on Dec. 22 by Golden RCMP after a group of skiers spotted him lying in the mountains near the Kicking Horse Mountain resort and alerted authorities. He had been crying for help.

A group of skiers stayed with him through the ordeal until rescue teams arrived.

The RCMP later stated the stranded man was woefully underprepared for a trek like the one that took him to the Canyon Creek area.

In yet another incident in Revelstoke, RCMP received a call from two male skiers on Dec. 28 who had lost their way out of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Members of Revelstoke Search and Rescue immediately set out to locate them. It wasn’t until next morning both the men were successfully rescued in the Montana Creek area.

The men, in their late 20s, were from Europe and had come to B.C. to enjoy its scenic beauty. Under-preparedness and over-enthusiasm led them to the dangerous situations.

There have also been similar incidents in Vancouver with hikers getting stranded on Grouse Mountain and Mt. Seymour and requiring rescue. In December, a skier was sued for the costs of his rescue after he ventured out of bounds on Cypress Mountain. The mountain’s operators are trying to retrieve the entire $10,000 amount.

It was great that so many people turned out for the backcountry safety talk by the Canadian Avalanche Centre on Monday night in Fernie, but the message that the CAC are trying to get across is that you can’t be too prepared.

If your intentions are to venture outdoors, make sure that you have the gear, the training and area knowledge to safely enjoy the backcountry experience.

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