Snowmobiles Banned from Backcountry?? | Mountain Sledder
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Snowmobiles Banned from Backcountry?? | Mountain Sledder

Snowmobiles Banned from Backcountry??

Call made for B.C. backcountry snowmobile ban.
CANWEST NEWS SERVICE
MAY 4, 2009

VANCOUVER- The owner of B.C.’s largest heli-ski operation is calling for a ban on snowmobiling in British Columbia’s mountains, following 19 deaths this year.

Drastic measures need to be taken to prevent further fatalities, says Mike Wiegele, a founding member of the Canadian Avalanche Association.

“It’s totally unacceptable that people are dying in large numbers. It’s an epidemic,” he said Sunday. “Snowmobilers are out of control. They go into closed areas without caring about anybody else.”

Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing operates between Jasper, Alta., and Kamloops, B.C.

Wiegele said search and rescue staff were traumatized by one fatality last year in which the coroner was delayed recovering a body.

“We found (the victim’s) face chewed off by wild animals,” Wiegele said. “It was very upsetting to staff.”

He called for provincial snowmobiling guidelines, an “expert inspector” hired for all commercial operations using Crown land, more monitoring stations with info on snow stability, and steps to hold all snowmobile groups responsible for back-country accidents.

Wiegele said there is a world of difference between heli-skiing, which his company has worked in for decades, and snowmobilers heading blithely to uncharted steep terrain.

“Years of experience in the back country are needed to be safe. We have medical people on staff and belong to international mountaineering organizations,” said Wiegele.

Vancouver Province

Comments

thewayout14 says:

good topic guys.the old skier vs sledder battle. education is key guys but the number one thing that will save your life is common sense which so many people lack.

jimbo says:

slickwilly, you could have not said it more true. There is no stoping anyone from enetering into any cat or heli opperations tenure. Only thing stoping us sled skiiers is respect. anyways, yah good on yah bro. Id rather spend 10 g’s on my sled and winter. From being up in blue river I have seen it first hand

Billy Neilson says:

wiegle is just mad becuase he can’t control the fact that we rip on his tenure… i was in valemount in the spring, wiegle’s terrain is accessible from most of these zones…i’m not suggesting we go terrize heli ski operations tenures, but when it all comes down to it he can’t stop us.. perhaps this is the reason he want’s sled banned from the backcountry… and as far as safety goes, i have a picture, which i will post soon of his groups skiing through a 2m plus avy crown, with a thousand feet of hangfire above it… i’m sure the stabilty must have been good at the time, but that was the same weekend that the sledder died in clemina creek this march…
when it all comes down to wiegle is a hater, he can’t accept the fact we would rather spend 10 grand on our sled to do our own thing in the backcountry, and not spend 10 g’s on a week of doing the wiegle wiggle…

besides who do you think brings more to the local community… sledders buy gas, food, booze, they rent hotels and spend money fixing shit on their sleds… all the money that goes into wiegle’s operation stays in his operation, and the local community benefits very little… none of his guides or staff are probably even from the area… i could keep going on ranting, but who would read about i anyway…

jimbo says:

as an X wieglie employee, I have a little I am a littly on the fence. when I first read and heard mike talking about this issue on the radio, I was angry, but in the same way he is really pushing education in the backcountry. Thats what we dont have as sledders. Mike is old yes, and he is very old school, but he does mean well. after hearing all this comotion about the baning of sledders on crown land, for one thing, that will never happen. just for one person to be outspoken about it wont have a cause. Thats what I think. But hearing more about the problem, mike spent something like 68,000 on heli time, wages, searchs, and whatnot to pull dead sledders out of his tenure. Yes, there is another dispute about his tenure, he should be sharing with every one else, but he does lease the land. so whos fault is it?? sledders or an out spoken austrian who has been around for 30 years with tons of experience and time in the monashee and cariboos. yes, there he has had accidents at his lodge, and what not, and you should see some of the pre training that they give their guests. its not just 15 minutes of how to use a transciver, its more like 2 hours of heli prep and probe, shovel and tranciever work that every guest and staff have to go through, and I have seen it, if the guides dont think your up to snuff, your regrouped skiing some other not to exposed line. Heli skiing in general is a huge risk. mike just don;t like us sledders and he needs to share the mountains. But we cant bag on mike for needing more education and experience. some of these guys going to blue river and drinking, sledding and doing whatever they please in the backcountry drunk. but……Mike does not have the right to say that snowmobilers should be banned from crown land. He steped over the line on that one.

Dave Norona says:

Wiggles is nothing more than an old Austrian gruppy person. He forgets to tell anyone in his post how many heli’s he has crashed or guides and people that have been burried at his establishment. Education is key and his rant will do nothing to help education. Many Cat Skiing Operations and a few heli ski operations still do not require guest carry probes and shovels. They ive them beacons 15 minutes of so called education and most of these people have not got a clue. Keep sledding positive and get more education, promote that to new sledders, even don’t offer to ride with friends if they choose not to get on board with avy clinics and education and always be smart about your terrain choices.

Aaron Bernasconi says:

Great way to think about it Keeperswilly! No one would ever even think about shutting down the highways… Wiggly keeps comparing apples to oranges anyway. How can you compare the commercial ski industry to the recreational snowmobile industry anyway? There were 0 fatalities in the commercial snowmobile industry and a few commercial ski incidents… no one is talking about that????

Adam Bodnarchuk says:

There are always going to be risks, and factors out of our control. But thats all part of the game right, as with anything. All I see is some greedy S.O.B. who found a good excuse to kick sledder’s outta the backcountry…just to free up some more heli-skiing terrain…he can snatch up….

Adam Bodnarchuk says:

They might as well take all the cars off the roads of BC too than. Pretty sure a lot more people get killed in automobile accidents every year than snowmobiling, or anything for that matter. Look at all the rules and regulations that must be followed in regards to that sector. The same factors apply to everything, whether it be snowmobiling, driving a car down the road, or even heli-skiing for that matter. Your always going to have people out there with no regard for their own safety, let alone others. There will always be accidents that could not be prevented. And weather conditions are always going to play a big factor. For example, if we had a winter that was full of milder temperatures and a lot of rain, you know damn well the amount of fatal automobile accidents would increase with the amount of ice on the roads. Which is what we saw this year with backcountry snowmobiling, with the unstable snow pack of this year. The way I look at it, is like our pre-job safety meetings at work. We have a list of hazards that change and increase or decrease from site to site. And we do our best to elimnate, or control them to the best of our capabilities. Which involves training, experience, and common sense. And this apply’s to everything else if your trying to do it safely as well.

Aaron Bernasconi says:

Yeah, I think it’s a case of "It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!" and Mike has been heavily shooting his mouth off for years about the sledding industry. Read his many other articles on how sledding SHOULD be banned and it might change the way you think of him…

Dave Best says:

i think this is typical media mis-reporting. If you read what he’s asking for, I think a lot of it makes sense. As far as I can see he never said "ban sledding". Just some more steps to make people get educated, act responsibly and understand that the backcountry is a place you need training to go and play in. Personally, I think it’s what 99% of sledshot users would agree with…?