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Editorial: Dangerous practices in winter conditions

There’s a reason why some areas should remain untouched
Koala Agusta 119, the kind flown by Skyline Helicopters out of Kelowna, one of which crashed north of Terrace on Monday, Jan. 22. (Skyline Helicopters photo)

The back country can be extremely dangerous, especially in winter. People still don’t seem to realize it despite the numerous accidents that continually happen throughout the province.

Thrill-seekers, both the companies operating tours and individuals, can’t seem to comprehend that some places should always remain off-limits. The rewards can’t possibly be worth more than the risks because when something happens it means almost certain death or serious injury.

Mother Nature is simply not to be messed with, particularly when conditions are ever-changing from snow to rain at regular intervals. It just makes everything very unstable, even at higher elevations.

And then there’s the increased chance of crashing in a helicopter through getting into difficult terrain. Some things are just meant to remain untouched, no matter how enticing pristine powder in remote locations may seem.

Another alarming trend surfaced during the recent cold spell when people in Squamish were witnessed climbing what were essentially long icicles on rock faces. Even though they also had ropes to secure themselves, that ice could have easily broken free and sent them plummeting.

Families of people who’ve died from dangerous practices in the past have often said, ‘well, so and so was doing what he loved’ as if that somehow justified it. How can anything like that be worth losing a life over?

The other thing that must be kept in mind is many of these adventurers put rescue crews in a difficult position. In the event of serious injury or people being trapped, the rescue workers have to risk their own lives.

In the case of frequent avalanches in the winter, this can obviously be an enormous task just to reach the site, never mind attempting to get them out of harm’s way and to hospital for treatment.

Rescue crews are the real heroes for bailing out people who don’t always think about what they’re potentially getting themselves into first.

The best practice is to completely avoid such dangerous ventures and save it for the summer when conditions are better and rescue workers usually have a better chance of providing assistance should the need arise.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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