Item: Heli-ski survival guide
Title: Heli-ski survival guide
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1996 International Snow Science Workshop, Banff, Canada
Authors: Eric Burr, HeR 74, Box B3, Mazama, WA 98833-9712, Tel: (509) 996-3101
Abstract: Procedures refined over 12 operating seasons in the North Cascades are reviewed, along with avalanche incidents, by the senior guide. This paper is an attempt to help answer Bruce Tremper's challenge to heli-ski guides, to reveal exactly how we manage risk. Our guide staff continuity emphasis, and internal communications, as well as client relations strategies are included, along with the obvious operating procedures regarding: setting up landings, radios, pits, ski tests, and route management. The clients' feelings involved are emphasized, especially as they relate to expectations, safety, liability, and the bottom line. Finally the survival of the sport itself, and its contribution to -and interaction with - environmental awareness, is related to its perceived elitist nature. This contributes not only to the problem Bruce Tremper pointed out, but also to ignorance of mountain reality by environmental activists. The future of heli-skiing and backcountry management may be at stake. The role of helicopters in supplying huts, maintaining trails, and rescuing ski tourers, relates to how well informed the involved political constituencies are. Increased participation of all heli-skiers, guides and clients, in environmental affairs is advocated. This is presented as potentially contributing to both snow safety, and more tolerance of heli-skiing by those unfamiliar with avalanche hazards. We are the eyes in the sky, and need to share our vision.
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Keywords: small operations, isolation, elitism, environmental vision
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