Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Media Statement December 1st, 2011

December 1st 2011 Golden BC . . . .Gilles Blackburn and his wife, Marie-Josée Fortin, residents of Quebec, skied into the backcountry area of Canyon Creek from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on February 15, 2009.

Blackburn and Fortin had no local knowledge of the area, no backcountry skiing experience, were unequipped in terms of alpine touring skis, climbing skins, avalanche transceivers, avalanche probes, avalanche shovels, backpacks, food, water, map, compass, GPS, radio, mobile telephone, matches, or other standard safety equipment used for backcountry skiing. They did not advise anyone where they were going, made no enquiries of the Ski Area, the Ski Patrol or local skiers as to the terrain in Canyon Creek, and gave no thought to how they would return to the ski area.

Blackburn and Fortin attempted to ski back to the ski area by skiing further into the backcountry. Fortin died of exposure on February 22, 2009. Blackburn was discovered by a passing helicopter on February 24, 2009, and was rescued.

An action was commenced by Blackburn in the British Columbia Supreme Court against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Golden and District Search and Rescue Association, and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, alleging failure to rescue. The action was strenuously defended by Kicking Horse. The action proceeded to mediation in Vancouver on November 28, 2011, involving all parties. Halfway through the mediation, Blackburn and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort agreed that the action against Kicking Horse Mountain Resort would be discontinued, without costs, and that Blackburn would sign a full and final release of all claims against Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. No amount was paid in settlement by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to Blackburn.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort advises that this case presents a cautionary reminder of the importance of responsible backcountry travel. Persons venturing into the backcountry should be properly prepared in terms of training, skills, experience, equipment, knowledge of avalanche and weather conditions, local knowledge of the backcountry terrain and be equipped for self-rescue.

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