August 21, 2011
Imagine watching your father disappear under six feet of avalanche debris, then no way to dig him out. That’s what happened last week to a group of New Zealand heli-skiers. Fortunately they had Tracker2’s and the teenage son was savvy enough to locate his father and start the rescue. With no shovels in the group, the prospects weren’t good–until the guides with shovels showed up.
Guy Pope-Mayell, 49, and 19-year-old son Elijah were heli-skiing in the Eyre mountains near Kingston when the slide released and buried the father. The group were not all carrying shovels, so they had to use their hands and snowboards to start the excavation. The guides were further downhill and were the only ones with shovels. Fortunately they reached the scene in time to get the job done and revive Pope-Mayell, who was unconscious when they got to his airway. At one point, according to the story, the older members of the group led Elijah away from the scene, convinced the father was deceased. Bottom line: beacons and shovels work! But it’s better not getting buried in the first place.
After going through this ordeal, Guy has decided to buy airbags for himself and his three partners–and has offered to help the heli-ski company buy a fleet too. “I definitely won’t be going heliskiing again without one,” he said.