Sunday, December 12, 2010

Banff: Close To Heaven... And Hell! - Adventura Magazine

Banff: Close To Heaven... And Hell! by Varial - ***

This article is about a man and his cousin who go to Banff to off-trail ski. Off-trail skiing, for those who don't know, is "two to three hours of hiking - sometimes more - for five to ten minutes of skiing." During their trip one of them was on a ridge when they signalled an "A" with their poles, meaning avalanche, then the ridge collapsed under him. The man receiving the signal then went over the ridge and upon landing he finds that the avalanche his cousin has made was not even the length of his skis. Moments later he realized he had caused a second avalanche, "It's in those moments that I appreciate my 197-cm skis that are 190 mm wide. Because even if I had two hydroplaning buoys strapped onto my feet, the speed makes me doubt the ability of my thighs and knees to keep up." Once safely out of the way of the avalanche he turned around to watch "his" 40 m wide "swallow" the last 300 metres of the mountain. His cousin disappeared for about half a minute in the 15 m high avalanche until he emerged covered in snow.

The next morning they wake up to two men in red jackets, "Anyone in there? Anybody hurt?" The older of the two then sticks his head outside and the two men in red jackets then give him a small list of things people aren't allowed to do in the park that the two of them had done. To finish off, one of the men in red jackets asks if the two of them will be sleeping there that night, when he answers yes the man in red says "Okay. Stay warm; it's going to be cold." The two men in red then left.

This article helped to show that one carefree decision in the wrong can be life-threatening. I can't really relate to what happened to these two men as the closest thing I've done to off-trail skiing is downhill skiing, and I've never experienced an avalanche. Off-trail skiing is something I would definitely consider trying in the future. I would also recommend this article to anyone who enjoys the sport of skiing/snowboarding.

Varial. "Banff: Close To Heaven... And Hell!" Winter 2010. Vol. 2, No. 4 Adventura Magazine

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