Monday, April 12, 2010

Death on the Wapta - Geoff Powter

Rating: ****

Death on the Wapta is an intriguing story of a young couple deeply in love who decided to set out on a month long ski tour of the Rockies. Both Kees and Claire were extremely well educated when it came to the outdoors and shared the passion of being with nature. Unfortunately they did not survive the extreme weather they had encountered and lost their lives together while sleeping one night in a self build cave they dug into snow.

The article explains the tremendous impact this couple had on each and every person they met. Claiming they could completely change the energy of a room as soon as they entered it. Their trip was planned as a celebration for Claire’s university graduation and Kees new career. Sadly, when the couple did not arrive home when expected a helicopter was sent out to look for their bodies. It was first assumed that their cave had collapsed under the severe pressure of the snow that accumulated on top of it, but later discovered that they may have lost their lives due to the simple mistake of cooking inside a small, closed off area. This then lead to the carbon monoxide taking their lives as well as the heat which caused the cave to collapse.

Kees and Claire’s story reminds me that no matter how experienced you can be, nature will always have the upper hand. It also shows you that the little things are usually the most important, and a small mistake, like the one they made by cooking within their hut, can have a fatal outcome.

Powter, Geoff. “Death on the Wapta”. Explore June 2007: 145. Print.

1 comment:

  1. Rating: ****

    I would agree with Allie that this is a great article. The story itself is very intriguing and sad, but what really grabbed my attention was why carbon monoxide is so dangerous to people who play in the outdoors.

    Reality is that most people who stay out in the wilderness use camp stoves to heat up their meals. Most of us have also been in the situation where the weather has been terrible and we have brought our stoves inside our shelters although we knew better. The problem with carbon monoxide is that it sinks to ground level and unless your shelter is very well ventilated, the gas doesn't dissipate. It is also the place where we put our head when we go to sleep or read in a tent, making us even more vulnerable.

    Now as I researched the topic of carbon monoxide and camp stoves, I came across a very interesting research article by Roger Caffin, "Stoves, Tents and Carbon Monoxide - Deadly or Not? Part 3: Laboratory Measurements for Canister Stoves". Basically what the article states is that camp stoves have traditionally produced a lot of carbon monoxide putting campers at risk, because the pots are too close to the flame, not allowing all the gas to burn off. Once the flame would hit the pot, the gas would not burn any further and would just be released into the air and if that was in a confined space not well ventilated, it could have deadly consequences. It is interesting to note that camp stove manufacturers have been made aware of this and have been working hard on new stove designs that limit the production of carbon monoxide.