Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On avalanches and snowmobiles in BC...

I took this article from today's CBC website:

Police ID snowmobiler in weekend avalanche deathLast Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 6:35 PM PT
CBC News

Police have released the name of a man killed in a weekend avalanche in northeastern B.C.

Kelly Roy Siemens, 30, was from the Hythe area of Alberta, Tumbler Ridge RCMP said in a news release Tuesday.

He was among six snowmobilers caught in a Saturday afternoon avalanche on Babcock Mountain in Tumbler Ridge, about 60 kilometres west of the Alberta border.

The other five members of the group were not buried by the slide, police said. They located Siemens with the help of other snowmobilers.

There have been 15 deaths from avalanches in B.C. this winter.

A 33-year-old snowmobiler from Edmonton was killed Friday in an avalanche in the B.C. Interior.

Two snowmobilers were killed on Jan. 12 in separate avalanches, one in southwestern B.C. and the other in the southern Interior.

One man injured in a B.C. avalanche died in a Washington state hospital earlier this month. He was caught in an avalanche while helicopter snowboarding on Alice Mountain near Terrace.

Two men died in separate avalanches while skiing or snowboarding in closed areas of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort on Dec. 31 and Jan 1.

In the worst event, eight men from Sparwood were killed in a series of avalanches while snowmobiling near Fernie on Dec. 28.


I know I'm going to sound silly when I say this, but can anyone out there besides me, spot some sort of trend developing here? Canadians from all provinces and territories love the outdoors and actively partake in all manner of winter activities. Yet they don't write themselves off with such lemming-like abandon.

Would it be particularily uncharitable to state what seems like the obvious here? Yes, I know... The friends and families of these unfortunates console themselves by proclaiming that their dearly departed "left this world doing what they love". If I happened to "love" sticking forks into wall sockets and this happened to lead to my own demise, I doubt very much whether those I left behind would remember me as being a "hero". I'd be remembered as an idiot. A dead idiot, but an idiot all the same. And may I hasten to add... rightfully so.

In the case of these individuals though, no doubt out of some sense of misguided political correctness, everyone seems to be tiptoeing around the huge elephant sitting in the middle of the room. To further compound the insult to one's intellect, they will go so far as to tell you that these people were 'seasoned veterans', who absolutely 'knew what they were doing out there'. Really? So if I understand, it was always their intention to die this way, was it? They were just looking for that perfect avalanche to come along??? Do you really expect any one of us to believe that??? Do you actually believe that??? No... My thinking is, if they were such consumate professionals, they'd still be alive and their families would not be mourning a loss which needn't have happened.

Clearly you would like to believe that they knew what they were doing. Were this the case, they would also be expert in not simply driving a snowmobile, they would also know something about the environment in which they were snowmobiling... the realm of avalanche dangers and avoidance of these. I can be a top notch swimmer, but if I get sucked under because I was deliberately swimming where I knew the strongest undertow occurred... guess what? I don't qualify as the sharpest pencil in the box. If I truly am as good a swimmer as I think, I will know where those danger areas are and avoid them. Therein lies the difference between 'an experienced person' and a neophyte. If you've been doing something wrong for 20 years, that does not make you 'experienced'. That makes you 'incorrigible'.

15 deaths this winter. That's since December 28th! And we're NOT EVEN THROUGH JANUARY!!! Jesus Christ, people. If you can't see the writing on the wall by now, there truly is no hope for you. Let the carnage continue...

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