Buried

On January 20, 2003, at 10:45 a.m., a massive avalanche released from Tumbledown Mountain in the Selkirk Range of British Columbia. Tonnes of snow carried 13 members of two guided backcountry skiing groups down the 37-degree incline of a run called La Traviata and buried them. After a frantic hour of digging by remaining group members, an unthinkable outcome became reality. Seven people were dead.

The tragedy made international news, splashing photos of the seven dead Canadian and US skiers on television screens and the pages of newspapers. The official analysis was that guide error was not a contributing factor in the accident. This interpretation has been insufficient for some of the victims’ families, the public and some members of the guiding community.

Why did the guiding team seemingly ignore a particularly troublesome snowpack? Why were two groups travelling so close together? Were the guides adhering to best practices for terrain selection and snow stability evaluation? What motivated them to go there?

Buried is the assistant guide's story. It renders an answerable truth about what happened by delving deep into the human factors that played into putting people in harm’s way. The story begins buried metres deep in snow, and through care-filled reflection emerges slowly like spring after a long winter, nurturing a hopeful, courageous dialogue for all who make journeys through the mountains of their life. The story illustrates the peace that comes from accountability and the growth that results from understanding.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Buried 1
Contents 7
Acknowledgements 9
Author’s Note 13
Chapter 1: The Durrand Glacier 15
Chapter 2: Buried 53
Chapter 3: The Abyss 95
Chapter 4: Battle with Deception 111
Chapter 5: Lesson One: Acceptance 121
Chapter 6: Lesson Two: Courage 137
Chapter 7: Lesson Three: Connection 163
Chapter 8: Lesson Four: Self-discovery 187
Chapter 9: Lesson Five: Peace 207
Chapter 10: Lesson Six: Acting on Intuition 219
Chapter 11: Lesson Seven: Truth 243
Epilogue 279
Glossary 283
References 287
About the Author 288