The guides may have underestimated the terrain above the climb, the underlying weakness in the snowpack and an incoming weather system. Below 2000 meters of Complex, Class III terrain, the guides offered their clients opportunities to mock-lead the final pitch, climb laps on the first pitch and practice building V-thread anchors at the base. All the while, wind gusts of up to 100 km/hr blasted the slopes above. Without warning, our group was hit by a wall of thundering snow...
The objective of this website is to provide resource material to adventure-based associations, the recreational public and guiding companies to encourage the development of robust risk management plans, emergency response systems, incident review protocol, appropriate post-incident communication and to ensure those who are touched by a tragic mountain incident are better equipped to manage the experience.
When a size 2.5 avalanche tore through the group of climbers, two clients were swept 250 feet downslope and buried, along with all the packs containing rescue equipment. While the buried climbers were located within minutes, without access to their probes and shovels, those on the surface were left to dig with only helmets, crampons and sticks. This website was created to help disseminate lessons from this tragedy, with the intention of preventing similar future outcomes.
In the weeks and months following the incident, numerous attempts were made to reach out to Sarah Hueniken Guiding and the executives of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) to discuss the decisions that led up to the avalanche burials.
The ACMG is a non-regulated association of mountain professionals, with no procedures in place to deal with significant near-misses or fatality(s), At this time, guides have no obligation to report incidents, there is no investigation process, documentation is privileged and waivers signed by clients release guides from liability of negligence. In the spring of 2019, the following statement was issued to the membership from the ACMG executives:
"The public often wants to hear a statement from the relevant governing body, our lawyers and insurance are concerned that the wrong information may lead to increased chance for a lawsuit… we are choosing to honour the wishes of the people most affected and have not, to date, released anything significant.... because the well-being of the guides involved trumped the "need to know" by anyone else. It's the best way to ensure that a story goes the way that works best for the association and its members."
This statement is incompatible with an association dedicated to providing 'public safety'.