By Sarah Kloos
Special to the Valley Echo
On November 7thAvalanche Canada unveiled a new multimedia, interactive site that takes the viewer through the experience of an incredible backcountry rescue. The site —Rescue at Cherry Bowl — tells the story of how a group of four backcountry skiers were saved after being hit by a large avalanche, burying three of them deeply. The site is can be found at www.avalanche.ca/cherry-bowl.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” says Mary Clayton, the project’s manager and Communications Director for Avalanche Canada. “Three lives were saved because the rescuers knew exactly what to do. The four rescuers had recently taken a Companion Rescue Skills course and that training made the difference between life and death.”
Rescue at Cherry Bowl demonstrates how a day went terribly wrong, through the eyes of everyone involved. The site also allows the user to explore other aspects of the story, including information about the forecast, why the snowpack was weak, the human factors behind some of the decision making, and the effect of training on the rescue process.
“We’re so grateful to everyone involved with this rescue for telling their stories so honestly and emotionally,” adds Clayton. “In our role in accident prevention, too often our educational opportunities are based in tragedy. We are looking forward to sharing this project that has given so many rich, teachable moments on top of a happy ending. We hope this site will inspire more backcountry users to keep up their training, hone their rescue skills and continue to engage with Avalanche Canada and all our programs.”
“The site is mostly aimed towards Western Canada, as that’s where most of the back countries are. Invermere especially is surrounded by mountains, and there have been a number of fatalities in the surrounding areas. It’s a very important issue for that neck of the woods,” Clayton told the Echo. “We made this site because we wanted to use the power of this amazing rescue to promote avalanche awareness and training.”