Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How not to get lost

A cold night in a creek
Whistler SAR has been receiving many calls of distress from lost skiers, and snowboarders during the last few weeks, and recently with fatal consequences. Back country users in the Whistler area should be prepared to navigate in whiteout conditions, have knowledge of local terrain, proper outdoor gear, a buddy capable of companion rescue, first aid skills, and avalanche training. Cell phones work in some areas, and not in others if your lost conserve your batteries. Always tell someone responsible where you are going, and your time of return, or file a itinerary with the mountain. If you are lost in the back country find a location where you will be visible from the air, and note any prominent landmarks, make a shelter, and stay put. Dial 911 for assistance and don't waste your cell phone batteries.

Whistler SAR would like to remind people that often they will not be reported missing early enough in the day to launch a search, and therefore stand a very good chance of spending the night out. Very likely there will be consequences to your actions.. Many tracks have been spotted from the air from people in precarious situations off the backside of Whistler mtn. Many of the incidents have gone largely unreported probably because no one knew they were out there.

If you leave the ski area boundary into the backcountry you will most definatley see signs.
You are leaving the ski area boundry
The minumum you should have with you

1. Avalanche transceiver 457khz(on your body)
and demonstrated ability to use it
2. A partner
3. Shovel/ Probe
4. Knowledge of the terrain and your ability.
5. Avalanche knowledge
6. Knowledge of local avalanche conditions
7. Basic First Aid/ Survival equipment
8. Food / Water
9. Charged Cell phone, VHF radio, or Sat phone, contact numbers
10. Navigation equipment.
11. Good backcountry ski/ board
equip in good working order/ ability to ascend

• know this winter’s snowpack layers
• know the recent snowfall & type
• know current CAA Avalanche Center forecast, Whistler mtn Forecast
• know today’s weather forecast (snowfall, temperature & visibility)

Getting lost / How not to get lost
Legend--All maps.
Ski area boundry--pink
Out of bounds/ Caution areas--yellow
Area's to get lost in-- !

Common Mistakes:

Down at the lake: Cheakamus lake is easily accessed during the summer, winter is a different story! You may find yourself 15km away from any civilizaton. Just a bunch of stinky empty pit toilets full from the summer! Also popular shelters for unintentional night outings!


Cheakamus lake on a beauty day!
Cheakamus at nightfall as the temperature drops to -10c

If you find yourself here STAY THERE!! It's one of the first places we look! (look for a red or black heli hovering low) Make yourself visible from the air at the shoreline. Helicopter rescue will be your only choice.
This picture is the exact spot and a popular spot to spent a cold night. Stay off the ice it's usually thin! Once again people have died here! There is a map on a bill board near the entrance to the river in a partial clearing near toilets!

-KHYBER PASS / LEFT OF THE KHYBER- This is beyond the ski area boundary. Always travel with a buddy. You may be charged for rescue if mountain resources are used for your rescue. Don't go too far left off STU inn more than 700 vert ft or you will be wandering aimlessly through cliff bands, and gullies going up and down all over the place very disorienting even to locals. You have to clear the pass at this elevation by exiting to the right or your getting sucked into Khyber cliffs, and the Cheakamus Lk area. Exit is via road in clearcut back to creekside. Don't go unless you are with someone that knows where they are going 100%......
Khyber Pass Area
Cliffs if you screw up and go too far skiers left!

-CAKE HOLE South west side Whistler mtn ends at a waterfall 2/3 way down flanked by cliffs. Also a Avalanche path. Ducking a rope off the back of the Peak chair (south side) will put you in here. Once your in sucked in it becomes increasing harder to escape the beast! Stay away if you don't know what your doing! There's a small rescue cache attached to a big fir tree (biggest tree in photo lower left)at the bottom of the open area below waterfall near to the summer trail.
Waterfall at the bottom
A popular place to spend a night!

-BELOW CAT ROAD ON HARMONY OR PICOLLO NORTH SIDE: A trail provides access to Singing pass don't miss the trail (marked with reflective markers on trees) or you will be in the creek which is a tangle of logs and is flanked in places with cliff bands, and gullies. Fitzsimmons creek is a ugly place.
North Side Whistler Mtn

-BACKSIDE PICOLLO- South west side Whistler mtn starts in steep terrain flanked by cliffs. Also a huge Avalanche path with big potential for big avalanches. Prepare for a cold night at Cheakamus lake 11km to the road!!! There is a summer trail out but it's hard to follow in winter (marked with reflective markers on trees) Stay out and don't ski off the back of Picollo.
Avalanche path runs for 3500ft

Whistler's backcountry includes the musical bumps, and is more mellow than Blackcomb offering excellent backcountry skiing.
Garibaldi park boundry line / Stay left of Yellow line

-EAST SIDE FLUTE/ BACKSIDE- Ducking the rope of the back of Flute is a popular backcountry area in Garibaldi park. Many ski tourers, split boarders use this area. The usual exit is from the singing pass trail. Buy a map! Even locals in a whiteout have a tough time navigate it's broad featureless summit area. The backside of Flute towards Cheakamus Lake (going too far right of yellow line!) Will end you up in terrain you will wish you had never entered! Serious avalanche gullies start here and run right to the lake. Even it you make it to the lake you might as well be on the backside of the moon! Exit to the right via cheakamus lake trail (if you can find it!)Don't go east up the lake to what is called moose meadows, putting yourself even further away into the middle of nowhere!! The usual entrance to the park is along the ski area boundry sign line about 2/3 of the way along it. (going left off summit follow rope then cut right towards oboe) If you don't have backcountry equipment do not use this area!
Backside Picollo / Cheakamus Lk
Moose meadows on not such a nice day!


-BELOW 7TH HEAVEN: A tangle of steep terrain, tight thick trees, and bluffs, if you make it to the valley you are in the middle of Fitzsimmons creek just as it gets dark. 8km away from any Civilization
Below 7th Heaven
-BELOW BLACKCOMB GLACIER SKI OUT: A forest that isn't worth anybodys time. Flat tight trees with two knarly creeks running on either side. Stay out !!
Blackcomb and Horstman Creeks

Blackcomb's backcounrty is huge! Full of big glaciers, cliffs, icefalls, gullies, and big mountain terrain. If you don't know exactly what your doing, and are very good at it please stay away. You will get spanked!

-DECKER MEADOWS: You can't get here unless you hike!!! If your going to Corona or Husume know where your going. Blindly following tracks will lead you to Whistler Heli ski pick-up. Only to find the tracks vanish. Don't follow heli-ski tacks. If your going into the Blackcomb backcountry buy a map and know how to navigate in white out conditions. A wrong turn will leave you in Wedge creek for a very cold night in a creek! People have died here before from exposure. 6-8 hours to road if you know where your going!
Decker Meadows
Decker Area

They are absolutely to be respected. People have died many times ducking ropes!!!!!
Duck a rope and be prepared to get yourself into a mess of trouble.
Area's are closed for a good reason..... People rountinly die here!

Enter only through gate

Travel with competent companions, and be prepared for self rescue.
If you require assistance dial 911..

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