January 02, 2014 - 4:27 PM
KAMLOOPS – Sun Peaks Resort Corporation announced today it would not be charging the seven skiers that had to be rescued after getting lost out of bounds at the resort between Dec. 23-31.
General Manager Darcy Alexander says the rescued skiers will be asked to use their recent experiences as an opportunity for public education on the risks of skiing out of bounds unprepared. They will be expected to use open letters to media as well as other tools, and donations to support Kamloops Search and Rescue will be encouraged.
“In each case, Sun Peaks' staff conducted an immediate search to utilize daylight, staff knowledge and proximity to the search area,” Alexander says. “We also contacted and supported Kamloops Search and Rescue, who bore the majority of costs in each of the searches.”
Sun Peaks endures a cost of thousands of dollars for each search while costs to search and rescue operations can run anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 depending on the equipment needed and the length of the search. Man hours with search and rescue are all volunteer though food and mileage is subsidized through Emergency Management B.C.
"We are in the business of providing exceptional experiences to our guests," says Alexander. "The message we want to convey is to respect ski area boundaries. Sun Peaks itself is the second largest ski area in B.C. and has ample challenging and exciting terrain within the ski area boundary. For those that choose to go into British Columbia's backcountry, these rescues demonstrate the critical importance of being prepared with training, knowledge and appropriate equipment."
All seven skiers were found safe with searches lasting between four and 22 hours. The first incident involved three 14-year-old boys on Dec. 23 and then two sisters were rescued Friday, Dec. 27. While teams were searching for the sisters a call came in for a U.S. Woman in her 40s, who also got lost skiing out of bounds. On Dec. 31 a 24-year-old Ontario man was rescued just as the sun set and the resort was preparing to celebrate New Year's Eve with about 7,000 visitors.
"We are pleased all searches were successful," says Alexander. "And that the thousands of visitors to Sun Peaks during the holiday period are enjoying the resort's favourable snow conditions in a safe and responsible manner. In fact, of the over 80,000 ski visits at Sun Peaks during the holiday period, only seven people were involved in the searches. It is important to keep in the context that the out of bounds searches involved a very small number of people compared to the large number of skiers who visit Sun Peaks resort each winter."
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