The experts will likely tell you you’re nuts. But if you’re coming to Revelstoke and deliberately planning on going out of bounds you had better be prepared.
“Once someone decides to go out of bounds they’re responsible for themselves,” says Ashley Tait, Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s marketing and media manager.
Speaking in the wake of this week’s incident involving a Swedish skier who went out of bounds and then walked onto — and then plunged through! — a cornice at Greely Bowl, Tait said anyone planning to go out of bounds had better be fully prepared. That means having the right clothing, food, water, GPS, an avalanche beacon, probe and other gear. And they absolutely must let other people know when and where they’re going and never, ever go alone..
Talk to people in Search and Rescue or the RCMP and they’ll tell you too many people think nothing bad will happen to them. Take that fellow from Sweden. I’ll bet he was thinking, “What can go wrong?” After all, he was just walking across the snow.
The problem for so many people who go out of bounds is absolute ignorance of the terrain and the conditions. It looks cool when you see extreme skiers or boarders on a big screen. But those are people who do it for a living and you can bet they have experts on hand and probably easy access to a helicopter just in case something goes wrong.
That’s never the case if you’re a 20- or 30-something who thinks he’s immortal and you decide to go out of bounds at RMR. It’s a big mountain. There are cliff faces you don’t know about, gullies and ravines like the one that channels Montana Creek that are not only cell phone dead zones but potential death traps if you trigger an avalanche.
But instead of thinking about the really serious trouble they can get into, thrill junkies are focused instead on their next hit of adrenaline. It makes you wonder about human beings. As a species we’re just way too short sighted. But that doesn’t mean that as individuals we have to park our brains at the base of the mountain when we hop on a ski lift.
“Repeatedly we’re getting people who are getting themselves into trouble,” Tait said.
And they’re getting themselves into trouble deliberately. The boundaries are extremely well posted and the warnings against crossing the boundaries are posted all over the place.
RCMP echo Tait’s observation and are concerned that, as Cpl. Rod Wiebe put it in a statement issued after the Swedish skier was rescued, “as the numbers increase it is only a matter of time before the outcome will be a tragic one.”
Police are encouraging all users of the Resort to stay in bounds and stay safe.
It’s also cheaper. Mounting a rescue is expensive and if you intentionally go out of bounds and put yourself at risk to the point that the Mounties, Revelstoke Search and Rescue and the resort’s own experts have to rescue you from yourself you could find yourself presented with a bill that amounts to thousands of dollars.
Tait that the decision on whether to levy a bill on an out-of -bounds skier is “made on a case-by-case basis.” And even if there isn’t a formal bill people who are rescued may be encouraged to “make a donation to SAR,” which is an organization of highly trained volunteers who have to break away from their income-producing day jobs to undertake difficult and sometimes dangerous rescues of people who really should know better.
How about you? Do you know better?