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Claims against Kicking Horse Resort dropped in backcountry lawsuit

Mediation with other parties continues for Gilles Blackburn


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In a statement released Dec.1 Kicking Horse Mountain Resort states that all claims against it by a former guest who got lost in the backcountry, and whose wife died as a result, have been dropped.

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,” states a press release from the Resort

“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.”

Fortin died of exposure on February 22, 2009. Blackburn was discovered by a passing helicopter on February 24, 2009, and was rescued.

Blackburn launched a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Golden and District Search and Rescue Association, and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, alleging failure to rescue.

An offer is now on the table from the RCMP and Golden Search and Rescue and Blackburn has until the end of business day Friday, Dec. 2 to accept.

According to the statement by Kicking Horse, Blackburn agreed that the action against the resort would be discontinued, without costs, and that Blackburn would sign a full and final release of all claims against it.

“No amount was paid in settlement by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to Blackburn,” says the release.

“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.”

Pique will continue to follow the story. Please check back for updates and pick up next week’s edition for the full story.


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