Sledders Have Close Call with Avalanche!

I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that the training we received from you and Randy paid off this last weekend and helped us avoid a close call.

Garry G, myself and Bob S were sledding at Paradise mines by Panorama on the weekend.  We started at Toby Creek Adventures parking lot and traveled to the warm up cabin about lunch time. When we got there four tour guides were making their guests lunch.  We asked about the snow conditions in the bowl and the surrounding slopes behind the cabin.  They pointed out the hazards along with some safe places were we could sled and do a little high marking.

We started sledding in the bowl where the guides suggested, but there were two young guys high marking in the most hazardous spot on the mountain.  Unknown to us these two cowboys think it is a big joke to set off an avalanche then ride it to the bottom.

To make a long story short Bob and I were at the bottom of the hill but not quite out of the run out zone when

Garry noticed that they started a slide and hollered “Avalanche!” over the radio.

I was parallel with the bottom of the hill.  Bob was going towards the hill and facing it straight on.  The snow seemed to part somewhat around Bob.  When it was all over he was still sitting on his sled facing the hill in about 16” of snow, just enough that the sled would not pull itself out.  On the other hand the snow hit me full on from the side.  I was trying to get out of the way when I collided with another sled.  We were knocked off our sleds.

All I could see was white

I was on my back and I knew that I needed to swim out of the avalanche like we were taught but it was difficult.  When I stopped moving I still could not see anything but snow blowing around as I lay there.  I did not know if I could move or not so I tried.  It was easy.  I was even able to sit up but I had to shield my face from the blowing snow which was starting to settle down.

I could see that I was sitting on top of the snow as well as the other rider that I ran into.  Luckily we were both ok.  Not 5 seconds later Garry and the two fellows that started the avalanche were at my location.  As the snow dust settled a bit more we could see Bob still sitting on his sled somewhat in disbelieve as to what had happened and how fast it happened. The tour guides from Toby Creek Adventures were there in about 2 minutes, and wanted to know if there was any body else on the hill.  We assured them that we were all accounted for.

Zac’s Training made the difference.

I just want to thank you & Randy for the great work you are doing teaching the avalanche awareness.  Not only for myself trying to do what I was taught, but for Garry who already had a game plan set in motion.  He had a plan as to what everybody was to do in the search efforts once the snow settled and they knew it was safe for them to come to our rescue.  (The tour guides felt that the slide was about a Size 3.)

I know that this is as close as I ever want to be in a avalanche.

Although Bob and I were caught in the tail end of the avalanche it could have been a lot worse if we did not have your training.  I hope that you continue your great work and assure you we will be back for more training.  It is people like you and Randy that make our sport a lot safer and for that I thank you very much and so does my wife Sherryl!

Hope to see you at your courses next year!

Duane M., January 8, 2008