Nelson Search and Rescue volunteers are true professionals, and after another busy week in the backcountry around Whitewater they deserve our thanks. Their commitment to rescuing people when things go sideways in the outdoors is unwavering, even when those they are looking for make dumb decisions.
These volunteers are kind and unselfish by nature. So when it comes to public post-rescue comments to the media, they tend to bite down hard on their lips when it comes to situations like the two that took place this past week. In meetings amongst themselves, you can bet most of these outdoor veterans are shaking their heads in disbelief.
In both cases this week, the snowboarders who went missing were totally unprepared for the situation they got themselves into. Despite obvious volatile avalanche conditions out-of-bounds, neither party had proper gear for either testing the snow or rescuing each other if something went wrong. They ventured into what is essentially wilderness, but both pairs had no provisions for a night exposed in cold weather.
Enticed by fresh powder and a thirst for adventure, these people made stupid decisions and are lucky to have survived. We have to ask the question: What will it take for people to wake up to the reality of the real dangers of heading into the backcountry?
There’s a long history in this area of death in the backcountry, by both the untested and the weathered veterans. It takes a significant amount of education and large dose of preparation to avoid tragedy.
The British Columbia backcountry is a beautiful place and it should be enjoyed. But blindly bumbling into it is not your right. It takes knowledge and planning to ensure it’s done safely. If you’re not ready to face what awaits, don’t go.
The latest rescue cost at least a couple of thousand dollars. We’re pleased that monetary loss is as far as it went. But to those who make foolish fun-seeking judgements, the question must be asked: Why should we have to pay for your mistakes?