This isn’t Disneyland

To say luck was on the side of the two foolish snowshoers who ventured out into the Whitewater backcountry Sunday unprepared for the consequences of outdoor adventure is an understatement. The Quebec pair will forever be indebted to search and rescue crews who ensured a happy ending.

Joined by search teams from around the region, Nelson Search and Rescue volunteers once again went to the wall for strangers. Their reward is knowing that instead of families forced to bury their loved ones, they will return home safe and sound.

That said, this situation was on the extreme end of foolish. The young man and woman ventured into volatile terrain without a hint of the basic preparation. No probes, no shovels, no avalanche beacons, no extra clothes, no food or water, no matches, no idea what they were getting into.  

When the people you are helping have no respect for the situation they put themselves in the first place, there has to be at least a hint of frustration. And yet they do it. Unselfish and dedicated, these men and women head out because they want to help. Search crews don’t get paid, in fact they have to reach into their own wallets for gear and training.

So what are the consequences for the thoughtless people who are rescued? Nothing. 

Over the years there has been debate over whether those who get into trouble should be punished financially. Though search crews do it for free, there is a cost. Helicopters, gas, equipment… it all adds up. But at the end of the day this pair gets off with nothing more than a story of an adventure gone wrong.

A main reason there’s no fine is concern that faced with a financial penalty families will attempt rescues themselves. If that happens situations can spiral out of control and more people can get into trouble. It’s better to cut losses and have qualified people save lives. 

In the end it boils down to respect. Those who embark into the wilds of this province have to know this isn’t Disneyland. There is real danger beyond controlled borders. If you get into trouble you may die. Being prepared is the bottom line and nobody should leave home without doing so.