Snowshoer rescued on Hollyburn Mountain

Snowshoer rescued on Hollyburn Mountain

This previous week has seen warmer than usual weather with a lot of rain and fluctuating freeing temperatures bringing rain to the tops of the local mountains, and saturating the snow. Yesterday and today dawned cold and clear. Overnight sea-level temperatures were below zero, so mountaintop temps were probably in the –5 to –10 Celsius range, creating a thick ice crust on the surface. With sunny weather yesterday, and more forecast for today, you could bet that there would be a lot of people in the backcountry today.

So it was almost inevitable that a snowshoer on Hollyburn, one of the areas I recently recommended as being fairly safe for snowshoeing, slipped and fell 30 metres. Not knowing too many of the details, I can’t say weather she was on the trail or not. Being a clear, blue sky day, and a fairly hard snow surface there wouldn’t have been much to stop any snowshoer from venturing as far as they liked off trail.

The news reports that the subject injured her ribs – which sounds innocuous, but for anyone who’s had this kid of injury it can be very painful, hard to breathe or even move. The subject was long-lined out.

So far, all of the conditions mentioned in the news fit the profile for the snowshoe-related slip-and-fall accidents I have been writing about. With sunny weather stretching until Wednesday, and low evening temperatures, there is a very high possibility of another such accident in the next few days.

Not to make light of a serious situation, but does anyone have a suggestion for a snappy acronym that I could use to describe these kind of incidents, or is that going too far?

4 Comments on “Snowshoer rescued on Hollyburn Mountain

  1. Fell On Stable Surface might work (FOSS), but I'd probably go with "shoefall" instead of an acronym. It expresses the problem (falls while shod with snowshoes, boots, or crampons, but not on skis or boards), and it alludes to "snowfall," hinting that these are falls on snow, not dry ground, and it doesn't refer to avalanches, which are not involved in these falls.

  2. I came up the top of Hollyburn right after her husband hiked back up from the north east slope in his back country ski boots asking for someone to call 911. I had the impression that she was a skier?! She had hit her head and was bleeding. I saw where she went over and for the world of me, I can't figure out why anyone, skiier or snowshoer or other, would venture off that steep slope when the snow is rock hard. I'm sure she was embarrassed and glad to get out okay. Poor gal. Fall on Crusted Snow (FOCS) or Fall on Rock Solid Snow (FORSS)?

  3. Thanks for the comments. I'll seriously consider FOCS but it might be hard to pronounce safely.

    I don't consider these accidents to be restricted to snowshoers. I myself took quite a fall on Seymour one sunny and crusty day while on telemark skis. Luckily for me the runout was safe (no rocks or cliffs), and I learned never to wear short sleeves.

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