Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) has temporarily closed the Snakebite and Verboten trails to allow time for trail crews to inspect the trails and features for safety.
The closure comes soon after reports of a second injury having occurred on a Snakebite trail structure on Sept. 12, with the first having occurred on Aug. 18.
According to Simon Piney, head of Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR), in both cases the riders were reported to have ridden over a feature they had not realized was a drop, landing from a significant height on the top of their heads. In both instances, the bikers presented signs of serious spinal injuries and significant pain levels.
“The two rescues were very similar from a SAR point of view,” said Piney.
“We administered pain relief on scene, packaged and immobilized the injured person in a specialized piece of extrication equipment called an Aerial Rescue Platform, which allows us to then longline that person.
Both subjects were transferred via longline to the BC Ambulance Service, taken to Fernie Hospital and then on to the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
With regards to the serious nature of these injuries and the difficulty associated with ground extrication, Piney reflects on how fortunate Fernie SAR is to have helicopter longline capability in Fernie, along with expert pilots at Ascent Helicopters who are able to provide precision flying in heavily forested terrain.
“The trees in the Snakebite area are big, forcing us to move to a 150 foot line instead of our regular 100 foot, which increases the flying challenges significantly, and the second rescue had the added complication of strong winds.”