Selkirk Mountain Experience Avalanche Accident


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 22, 2004      

It’s been interesting to watch the thread about the January 2003 Selkirk Mountain Experience (SME) avalanche disaster over on the Couloir Magazine forums. This is the avalanche the killed seven guided backcountry skiers. It has been controversial and received a ton of press.

The guide, Ruedi Beglinger, has an amazingly good safety record — considering he takes people skiing in avalanche terrain year after year. Nonetheless, per common practice in European and Canadian guiding, Ruedi had a large group (21 customers) on an avalanche slope at one time, and this time he and his clients received the sometimes dire consequences of gang skiiing an avalanche slope.

On one side of the issue are people loyal to Ruedi (many are his friends and customers) who argue he made no mistakes, while others argue that Ruedi may have made mistakes, and perhaps Canadian backcountry ski guides should be more conservative in their approach.

(Having never been guided in Canada, my position is not firm. I’m uncomfortable with exposing more than one person at a time to avy hazard, but I understand that in large groups, spreading out over the landscape introduces other problems and hazards, such as guides not being able to care for clients.)

It’s an interesting discussion, since all backcountry skiing has risk, and the question is, how much risk mitigation is culturally and ethically acceptable? In other words, your guide may have you ski with a helmet, but does he have a helicopter hovering overhead with a trauma team at the ready? Or in the case of exposing groups to avalanche hazard (standard in non-guided groups is to expose one person at a time), what should the standard be? More, exactly how risky is being guided in Canada? My gut feeling is that it’s incredibly safe to ski with a guide like Ruedi, but it would be nice to see some numbers that compared the risk of driving to Canada with that of skiing backcountry powder once you get there.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


Comments

  Your Comments


  Recent Posts




Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed



 



  • Blogroll & Links


  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version