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chelle

Avalanche near Revelstoke

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AlpineK:

 

Please don't assume that people who helicopter ski don't know "jack shit" about snow and avalanche conditions and avalanche rescue. The time I did it with friends in B.C., it was the 18th trip for their group. They have been to India, New Zealand, Canada, and Alaska. Most of them are professional ski instructors. Many first descents among them. Serious skiers who know more than many skiers. It is wrong to assume that people who can afford to ride in helicopters all day for a week are inept. Some undoubtedly are, but certainly not all.

 

And, of course, the unfortunate group of backcountry skiers that is the subject of this thread, like the group that suffered three casualties in Canada last year (I think it was last year) and the group of Mountaineers that had an accident near Crystal this year, suggest that plenty of backcountry skiers (i.e. not "helicopter skiers") make fatal mistakes as well. It happens.

 

Hopefully everyone can learn from this tragedy.

 

John Sharp

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Yeah cause it took me 3 whole hours to drive it in a blizzard two weeks ago, and that included a stop at Howling Wolf Cafe for some scrambled tofu. laugh.gif

 

I'm backing Dru on this. I've done that drive and it doesn't take 10 hrs. 2-3 max.

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Juan

 

I was making a generalization. Like all generalizations you can disprove them, but for the vast majority of cases I'm right.

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Alpine K:

 

Given your high level of confidence in your admitted generalization, I must assume that you've ridden in enough helicopters to determine that the great majority of your fellow passengers don't know "jack shit" about avalanche safety. Is that the case? Or have you in some other way reached this absolute certainty?

 

Juan

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AlpineK:

 

Please don't assume that people who helicopter ski don't know "jack shit" about snow and avalanche conditions and avalanche rescue. The time I did it with friends in B.C., it was the 18th trip for their group. They have been to India, New Zealand, Canada, and Alaska. Most of them are professional ski instructors. Many first descents among them. Serious skiers who know more than many skiers. It is wrong to assume that people who can afford to ride in helicopters all day for a week are inept. Some undoubtedly are, but certainly not all.

 

And, of course, the unfortunate group of backcountry skiers that is the subject of this thread, like the group that suffered three casualties in Canada last year (I think it was last year) and the group of Mountaineers that had an accident near Crystal this year, suggest that plenty of backcountry skiers (i.e. not "helicopter skiers") make fatal mistakes as well. It happens.

 

Hopefully everyone can learn from this tragedy.

 

John Sharp

 

I'm with Juanita here. frown.gif Just because some skier rides a chopper does not imply any type of skill or lack of skills.

 

The generalization comments are just opinions until someone justifies otherwise with some hard facts from a well respected and unbiased source. Just like in any argument right grin.gif

 

Either way it sucks this happened.

 

Oh yeah!! No way it can be more than a few hours. Unless you drive into a time warp, fall victim to funny shrooms and get diverted, or enter the unheard of BC triangle.

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I'm in with Alpine K. I'd be willing to bet that the majority (important term here) of Heli-skiers are folks from the city (i.e. New York, Chicago) with a lot of money to spend on skiing, but not much opportunity, do to time and geography, to practice avalanche skills.

 

Then again I am sure many folks who go heli skiing do know their "shit" to some extent. Of course, I have never been, so what do I know...

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These guys don't appear to have been morons. I think what AlpineK is saying is that your vast majority of tourons who heli-ski out of vail, whistler, what-have-you are probably morons, and I'd say, by and large, yes. That's why they hire guides to "protect" them. Juan is right as well, however; there are plently of very good skiers and climbers who can afford to or bum rides in helicopters as well.

 

It's funny that just a few weeks after everybody lambasted everybody else for jumping to conclusions regarding avy accidents, everybody wants to do it again. It sucks ass no matter what happened. Maybe they did everything right, maybe they fucked up. maybe it was a combinations of both. In any event, hindsight is 20/20.

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Juan,

 

Sorry to hear about your friends.

 

All I can say is helicopters time is very expensive, and you don't have to pass much of a test in order for CMH or any other outfit to take your money. The helicopter skiing business brought us fat shaped skies that are super easy to turn in powder. I don't think that's the sign of a super experienced clientele. Plus I've seen a bunch of the slopes those heli folks ski around Whistler. smirk.gif

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if Ruedi Beglinger was in that group, that's a very eye-opening view into the human/avalanche relationship. He is (or possibly was) one of the best.

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Heli access is the norm for a lot of trips in the Selkirks, especially for folks doing big traverses back to the Pass, not just heli skiers -- which the deceased were not apparently

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"To stop those monsters 1,2,3 . . . It's got Paul Anka's guarantee (guarantee void in Tennesse) / just don't look/just don't look" fruit.gif

Edited by jordop

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I'm done for the day, waiting for my ride to take me home.

 

sounds ominous.

 

Sorry to hear about the skiers, it makes no difference if they were heliskiers from Rio or X-country skiers from Norway, none of them deserved to die in that avalanche.

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AlpineK:

 

My friends are all fine, so I'm not sure what the first comment is about.

 

As for what it takes to go heli-skiing, I don't deny that people with no backcountry experience whatsoever can pay for a day of helicopter skiing outside any resort in the world. And yes, fat skis have made it all that much easier, just as bigger rackets have improved the game of tennis, and bigger club heads have improved the game of golf. That's technology making our lives easier.

 

And it's true that a visa card is all you need to board a helicopter to ski the Whistler backcountry.

 

But you are wrong to assume that anything more is required to become a "backcountry skier" who earns his or her turns.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I was in Marmot, the same visa card that could buy me a heli trip could also buy me a complete set up for tele or randonee, a transceiver, probe poles, an avalung, and everything else needed to then declare myself ready for the backcountry. And of course, the same card could be used to rent this gear if I decided not to buy it.

 

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but once you make it to the mountains with all that cool new gear, no one checks your credentials or tests your avalanche awareness skills. At least no one has ever checked mine going back to 1987 or so when I first skied down Mt. Adams.

 

However, prior to setting foot in a helicopter with TLH in B.C. three years ago, we spent about 90 minutes working with our transceivers. Is this a substitute for a day in the trenches with Gary Brill? No. Was this our first experience using a transceiver? No. But it's more than has ever been required of me prior to backcountry skiing.

 

Frankly, what I pick up from your posts today is a hint of hostility toward those who can afford to heli ski. Be that as it may, it is simply wrong to generalize as you have because the argument cannot hold up.

 

And for what it is worth, I can't afford to heli-ski either: The trip I enjoyed was a gift from a very generous and dear friend who can afford the finer things in life. We certainly can't blame him for the family into which he was born.

 

One thing is for sure: The mountains don't discriminate between experts or novices. We've seen that time and again, be it with alpinists, rock climbers, skiers, or snowboarders. The fact is that there are a lot of visa cards buried in them thar hills!

 

Cheers,

 

John Sharp

 

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Heard on the morning news that Craig Kelly was one of the victims. For people who don't know, he was the original snowboard legend from the start. Baker local and inspiration for us old school boarders. Tons of back country experience.

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What a tragedy, 7 people lost in a 2.5. It just sounds incredible but it does underline the importance of terrain traps in making a moderate size slide into a major killer. I suspect we should not be too greedy this year. My sympathy to all those personally affected by this.

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There was no warning of avalanche: survivor

 

 

VANCOUVER (CBC) — One of the survivors of Monday's avalanche that killed seven experienced backcountry skiers in B.C.'s Selkirk Mountains calls the accident a testament to the deadly unpredictability of mountains.

 

Alaskan geophysicist John Seibert, 53, rejects suggestions that one or more of the 24 skiers in the group somehow made a mistake, triggering the massive snow slide.

 

Seibert has also made it clear the guides were not at fault, noting they were testing the snowpack constantly.

 

"There was nothing in my mind that was a warning sign that we should not have been skiing this slope, on that day… I feel that this tragic accident was a fluke of nature," he said.

 

Seibert's first hint of disaster came when he felt the snow shift under his feet. Then he was swept away.

 

He described at a news conference in Revelstoke as like kayaking down the roughest river he has ever been on."It's like being in white water, until it stops, and then it's like being in concrete."

 

Seibert was partially buried under a rock hard mass of snow. It took him 20 minutes to dig his way out. He says he only survived because his head wasn't buried.

 

 

Others weren't so lucky. Seven people died of asphyxiation:

 

Craig Kelly, 36, of Nelson, B.C. Dave Finnery, 30, of New Westminster Naomi Heffler, 25, of Calgary Lucci Schwender, 50, of Canmore, Alberta Kathleen Keffler, 39, of Truckee, California Dennis Yates, 50, of Los Angeles

 

And Ralph Lunsford, 49, of Littleton, Colorado

 

Seibert says the tragedy would have been far worse if it were not for the owner of Selkirk Mountain Experience and other skiers.

 

"Ruedi Beglinger and the seven skiers who were not caught in the slide worked with extreme professionalism and untiring diligence until the last person was accounted for."

 

Despite his close call, Seibert says the risk is worth the excitement and he'd rather die on the slopes than die of boredom.

 

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We are just now learning that very thing (they were not heliskiers)..and are correcting reports to reflect the latest information. That's one problem with breaking news events...the first information we receive from official sources is not always what turns out to be true.

 

See, this is what pisses people off about the news industry -- it's more important to break the story than to get it accurate.

 

You can do a lot more damage by passing along unconfirmed reports than by waiting until you know something or a fact, regardless of the bragging rights of being the first to break a story.

 

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We are just now learning that very thing (they were not heliskiers)..and are correcting reports to reflect the latest information. That's one problem with breaking news events...the first information we receive from official sources is not always what turns out to be true.

 

 

See, this is what pisses people off about the news industry -- it's more important to break the story than to get it accurate.

 

You can do a lot more damage by passing along unconfirmed reports than by waiting until you know something or a fact, regardless of the bragging rights of being the first to break a story.

 

Tom, I agree with you. I hope the news hounds follow this thread. Accuracy is more important than speed. The newshounds should say until they have accurate information, "An avalanche has occurred in Revelstoke where people were involved. No deaths or injuries are confirmed."

 

What ever happened to "confirmation" of information??????

Didn't the Washington Post wait on publishing information until it was confirmed by a second source at the beginning of the Watergate incident??? This is why TODAYS news sucks.

Edited by Stefan

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Regardless, the Selkirks and surrounding mountains are fucking big and dangerous. On both of my ice climbing trips to that area I've been avalanched on. My good friend's dad died skiing there last year in a slide in the Kicking Horse backcountry, right in front of my friend and his sister and brother. It doesn't take much for big shit to cut lose there.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I was in Marmot, the same visa card that could buy me a heli trip could also buy me a complete set up for tele or randonee, a transceiver, probe poles, an avalung, and everything else needed to then declare myself ready for the backcountry. And of course, the same card could be used to rent this gear if I decided not to buy it.

 

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but once you make it to the mountains with all that cool new gear, no one checks your credentials or tests your avalanche awareness skills. At least no one has ever checked mine going back to 1987 or so when I first skied down Mt. Adams.

 

So well put Juanita.

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