It’s important to be sure how to use your equipment appropriately when in the backcountry. (File photo)

It’s important to be sure how to use your equipment appropriately when in the backcountry. (File photo)

Backcountry Safe seeks to start safety dialogue

The group is hoping that people will learn from their mistakes

With more people expected to enter the backcountry for the first time this season as COVID-19 encourages people to chase the outdoors, a new initiative called Backcountry Safe wants to start the conversation on backcountry safety.

The group, officially launched just over a week ago, is led by Dave Crompton, Mitch Putnam and Sheila Churchill, a trio of friends who survived an avalanche in 2016 on a backcountry trip just outside of Golden.

The avalanche resulted in several injuries and the death of their friend Doug Churchill. The group hopes to use their experience to affect change, to help others avoid a similar experience as they venture into the backcountry.

“We just thought it was timely, with ski season ramping up, we wanted to start a dialogue share our lessons,” said Putnam.

“We hope that it can help people make better decisions in the backcountry and maybe save some lives.”

The group has three key goals: to tell their story, share the lessons learned so that others may avoid tragedy and collaborate for change.

They are also looking to improve accountability in Canada’s alpine.

The group isn’t just looking to target outdoor enthusiasts – Putnam says that they were on a guided tour that fateful day in 2016. He says that over the years, they’ve worked with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides to address concerns held with how guides self-regulate, or in their case, don’t self-regulate.

He says they’re looking increase transparency and accountability in mountain guiding to help make for a safer experience.

“I want to start by saying that we have a huge amount of respect for the guiding community and the Canadian guides, they’re some of the best,” said Putnam.

“But in our situation, we did have some questions and concerns from that day and were surprised that the professional association weren’t investigating or reviewing anything to do with our incident, which really opened our dialogue.”

Putnam explained the association was somewhat handcuffed by their insurance companies and the legal process, which evolved into a flawed accountability process over the years.

He says the association has since started publicly stating some of their shortcomings, working towards improving their internal workings and to improve safety.

Putnam says anyone looking to get into the backcountry this year should be taking courses and ensuring they have the appropriate gear with them and to practice with it before setting off on an outdoor adventure.

“We need to practice with transceivers and that really became apparent in our rescue. Be prepare on how to use your equipment,” he said.

Those who are interested in contributing to the dialogue or getting more information on the program can visit their website

Backcountry Safe has also made available resources and information on staying safe in the backcountry, as well as lessons learned and shared from their own outdoors experiences.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heather Smart poses with her certificate as the first women in a decade to earn this credential in the Kootenays. (Photo submitted)
Local shift boss blazing the way for women

Heather Smart is the first women in the Kootenays in ten years to receive this certification

A pair of Okanagan Regional Library reference librarians have created a podcast called Hard Cover that takes a zany but informative look at books, libraries and librarians. (File photo)
Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast

Davin Helkenberg and Peter Critchley are behind Hard Cover

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

A CP grain car has derailed near Field, causing a power outage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Train derailment knocks out power in Field

Power is not expected to be restored until tomorrow

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

A 29-year-old Abbotsford woman twice crashed her car near Princeton on Saturday,… Continue reading

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Kamloops RCMP covered the animal with a blanket and dragged it out of the home on a carpet. (Kamloops This Week)
Oh ‘deer’: Bambi breaks into Kamloops home

A deer got trapped into a Kamloops home and had to be escorted out by RCMP

Lesley Lutes, UBCO professor of psychology and director of the Centre for Obesity and Well-being Research Excellence. (Submitted)
UBCO psychologist part of Bell Let’s Talk virtual panel tonight at 6 p.m.

Panel will talk about coping under the stress of this pandemic

Vaseux Lake in winter. (Facebook)
Dogs rescued after falling through Okanagan Lake

Good Samaritans saved the trapped dogs

A Cougar was caught on camera at a Coldstream Estates residence early Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (Brad Thomas photo)
VIDEO: Cougar caught on camera in Coldstream

A Coldstream Estates resident captured early-morning footage Wednesday

Three employees test positive for COVID-19 at Okanagan Superstore

Penticton 7 Eleven has reopened after closing for a week for COVID

Most Read