Shorter Gilles Blackburn

It’s my fault for being a moron, skiing off-trail at a resort I had never been to before, and carrying no navigation or survival gear; but it’s your fault for not coming to bail me out before my wife died.

You know, for 300 bucks you can buy a GPS with 25-hour battery life, and for a hundred more you can add to it a digital topo map of the Canadian West.

For a lot less than that, you can get a paper topo map, a waterproof case for it, and a good compass.  And maybe matches.

If there is negligence involved in this case, one tends to think it is on the part of the unfortunate fella who took his bride off marked trails into a backcountry area where he did not know the local geography.  And did so without any basic navigation or survival equipment.

Having lived in Alberta or B.C. thirty years ago and skiied the Rockies a few times is no surety against getting lost.  The Rocky Mountains cover some 991,691 square kilometres across the continent.  No single individual is going to know every nook and cranny of such a vast area.

If you’re heading into what is for you unexplored terrain, good preparation and information from knowledgeable locals are not just a good idea, they are an absolute requirement for survival.

UPDATE 160139Z DEC 2011: The lawsuit against the ski hill operator was withdrawn, he settled with the volunteer SAR organisation, and the lawsuit against the RCMP is ongoing.

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2 Responses
  1. John Simpson says:

    Quite simply, there are no mountains in the East of Canada that compare to the great West. I grew up boarding in B.C. and lived there 18 years. I am now in the east and to believe that you can shred B.C. just because you’ve shredded Quebec is absolute lunacy. First of all, you never, ever, go off the trail on a new mountain. Second, you for sure don’t do it if you don’t have a trail map or at least a cell phone with service at the least. Thirdly, once you get into trouble from your own mistakes, you don’t go and make a scapegoat out of the volunteer search and rescue team who have saved hundreds of people over the years. Blaming everyone else for what happened isn’t going to solve anything; it’s just going to force the teams to disband, and probably end up endangering more people in the long run. Blackburn is the victim, but should also be held to blame for what happened. It was no one else’s fault.

  2. Jes & Dorene says:

    You are absolutely correct, John. WE value the services of our Search and REscue team. It is unfortunate that their services are quite often used by morons like Gilles Blackburn who veer off marked trails because they believe they are invincible, then blame everyone else when their lives fall apart. A counter law suit against Gilles by all BC SEarch and REscue members and regular citizens should be launched. He is jeopardizing future SAR service for people who would benefit. WE are appalled that the arrogance of one man could bring down the SAR services we value and our taxes help to support.