Avalanches: Don't cross 'the stupid line'
The side of a mountain suddenly collapses, transforming a pristine white blanket into a raging wall of destruction and death. An avalanche used to be considered an unpredictable, and rarely survivable, force of nature. But with each tragedy experts have learned more about why avalanches happen, how their impact can be minimized and what people can do to survive their terrible force.
Michel took all the necessary precautions. But, Margaret Trudeau adds, many others who venture into the backcountry do not. "[Risks are] what life is about but we're not going to cross the stupid line," to ski out of bounds or jump off a snow cornice and risk triggering an avalanche, she says. Still, many skiers and snowboarders here seem addicted to the danger and glamour of uncharted, untested snow.
• Justin and Margaret Trudeau have used their national fame to help raise money for initiatives including an avalanche bulletin published throughout the winter, and workshops for guides. Justin has made strong appeals to the provincial and federal governments to provide funding, with some success.
• On July 12, 2003, the old Slocan Chief Cabin, a century-old log house for travellers where Michel Trudeau spent his last night, was re-opened as the Kokanee Glacier Cabin. Justin Trudeau and his mother, who helped launch a fundraising campaign to renovate the sleeping quarters and add a wilderness education component, were on hand. On the wall is a sign in memory of 13 people who died in avalanches in Glacier National Park, including Michel Trudeau.
• As recently as 2002, the Canadian Avalanche Centre, based in Revelstoke, B.C., was in danger of severely curtailing its operations because of government cutbacks. Just over half the $80,000 used to produce avalanche bulletins annually came from the B.C. government but was erased in budget cuts.
• As a result of the Trudeaus' lobbying and public concern over the 29 avalanche deaths in the winter of 2002-2003, the B.C. government announced in October 2003 that it would give the centre $125,000 per year for three years.
• The Canadian Avalanche Association was created in 1981. It is made up of more than 600 professional avalanche workers involved in aspects of snow safety from research to avalanche control. In 1991, it opened the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide information to the public. The Canadian Avalanche Foundation, established in 1999, is a registered charity that provides support to public avalanche information, education and research.
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Jan. 14, 2000
Guest(s): Margaret Trudeau, Justin Trudeau
Host: Ben Chin
Reporter: Terry Milewski
Last updated: December 20, 2012
Page consulted on September 10, 2014
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