Sometimes, average is exactly what you should hope for.
The 26-person crew of Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) is at home with the typical this season, executing nine successful searches, roughly the same figure as this time last year.
“Recently, (our searches) have been of two categories,” said Brad Sills, search and rescue manager, “either out of bounds or overdue skiers, people skiing outside of the ski area, including the typical ill-prepared out-of-bounds skier or a more prepared skier who has found himself in distress. And then your injured snowmobiler would be another category.”
According to Sills, the stats stick to the standard because of increased awareness among outdoor enthusiasts. He credits media reports for getting the word out, but warns that each event, fatal or not, results in some kind of loss.
“For almost every response that we do, someone has paid a price of something, whether they’ve lost equipment, hurt themselves or just plane scared the heck out of themselves,” said Sills. “I think people are just more aware that it isn’t worth it if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Mind, that’s just the rescue side of things. There have been other developments in WSAR’s world that have been just a little bit better than average.
First was a $54,000 donation handed over by one Maxwell Buhler after he successfully sued a cable company for overcharging customers.
At the same time, donations, while not common, aren’t exactly anomalous, either. The previous season saw a 4x4 donated by the American Friends of Whistler.
What really sweetens the season is the move to a new base, which was on schedule to happen this week. Previously, WSAR had been housed in the police station. But space was waning, and the search for another locale bore fruit at the public works yard, where a new facility awaits.
“We’ll be much better organized,” Sills said. “We’ll have room to dry our gear and store it properly, the way it should be, and have it readily accessible. Equipment that needs servicing — we’ll be able to do it in house, instead of having to take it home.”