Avalanche expertise will prevail

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Rod Gibbons published in The Pioneer on November 14th. I am a resident of Invermere, a self-employed ski and mountain guide who, at 66 years of age, still guides powder skiers and ski mountaineers, six to seven days a week all winter long. My private clients come mainly from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Sweden, the USA and Canada. Some have done two trips a year with me for over 25 years now.

I have done extensive ski guiding with helicopters and without them, in Canada and in the Alps. My accomplishments as the only Canadian-born mountain guide with over 30 plus years of ski and mountain guiding in the Alps and my off-piste powder skiing adventures are well-documented. I have also guided powder skiers for CMH Heli-skiing in the Bugaboos, in the Cariboos and, during my last winter in 1981/82, as assistant manager at CMH Panorama Heli-skiing, long before it was called RK Heli-ski.

I believe thatthe statements made in the media by the RK Heli-ski employees should be seen as part of the campaign of intimidation that started with the lawsuit against the Jumbo Glacier Resort project following the Environmental Certificate of 2004. One should ask why, if the resort village were in an avalanche path, this was not brought up at that time a perfect opportunity lost.

The truth is that the RK representatives are equivocating between the location of the day lodge for the skiers, and the resort village itself. The day lodge is close to an avalanche path (but not in an existing avalanche path), but the risk is vastly exaggerated because one can easily see that the risk could be monitored or mitigated by skiing on the slopes, and with controlled avalanche release systems. The resort village itself happens to be not only outside the potential zone of influence of avalanches, but also where RK Heli-Ski has testified it does most of the skiing and pick ups because it is the most protected area of the entire upper Jumbo Creek Valley.

Regarding the difficulty of successful avalanche monitoring and protection as if it were a very uncertain art, I very much disagree. I wish to add that I also understand that Karl Ernst, an expert in avalanche danger mitigation in B.C., is among those who do not agree with Rod Gibbons. Avalanche prevention and mitigation is successfully practised at most ski areas in North America and in Europe, and it will be easy to do it successfully at Jumbo Glacier Resort where necessary, as in the other ski areas.

In my 30 plus years of guiding throughout the entire Alps, I have seen many alpine villages located in far more inhospitable avalanche terrain than that witnessed in Jumbo Creek. Just Google villages like Andermatt, Davos, Saas Fee, St. Christoph am Arlberg, Zuers and St. Anton am Arlberg, and Val dIsere in France, and the list goes on and on. These villages have survived for over hundreds of years with elementary mitigation measures and, as soon as they had explosives, they started to release threatening avalanches before they became harmful to their villages. Finally, let me note that Cliff Hotel at Snowbird in Utah was designed and is successfully operated at the bottom of a big avalanche path. There are innumerable examples of successful avalanche monitoring, prevention and mitigation where necessary, and a just a little more information will counter this disappointing intimidation campaign.


John W. Hogg

Member in good standing of the

Association of Swiss Mountain Guides


Just Posted

Radium water restored after boil-water advisory

Pioneer tours through the plant to learn how the water quality was affected and what was fixed

Short term rentals divides opinion in Radium

Wildlife survey also on the agenda at last Council meeting

Clickety clack originals

James Rose fundraising for upcoming race through writing original one-page stories at farmers’ market

RCMP Report

Some of the more notable files from Columbia Valley RCMP week of August 12-18th

For the love of reading

Join the End of summer read-a-thon at Invermere library Wednesday, August 28th

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Most Read