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Feature - Angels of Whistler

There are many people who donate their time to make Whistler a better place, here are five of them

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"Sadly she passed away even before searchers were called out, but that incident brought to focus that now we are a major resort and need more equipment and resources," he recalls. "We are now much better equipped with more training as a result."

Then there are those searches you remember for different reasons.

"A couple of seasons ago this executive from a highly well-known international company got lost while snowboarding and ended up on the south side of Whistler Mountain by the Cheakamus River. At around 4 p.m. he got his snowboard and jumped into the raging Cheakamus, thinking it would float him down to the village. Of course it doesn’t go that way and the snowboard was like an anchor.

"He managed to get out and then decided to lie down and sleep, which is the worst thing you can do because hypothermia can set in. Somehow he survived his sleep and we found him at first light at the eastern end of Cheakmus Lake – cold, wet, tired but amazingly, still alive."

He pauses and laughs.

"I still can’t believe what he did and that he actually admitted to it."

Educating people about being prepared in the backcountry is the best solution, says Pryce-Jones.

"Take a shovel, Pieps avalanche transceiver, make sure you have food, temporary shelter, matches, be prepared to spend some time out there in case you get stuck without putting yourselves or others in danger. Even a plastic bag can form part of shelter."

Pryce-Jone admits he has no idea how much time he has dedicated to Search and Rescue over the past 26 years, but doesn’t regret a minute of it.

"It is not like there is a line between your own life and what you do (with Search and Rescue)," he says. "It is a lifestyle and a commitment to your community. You live it and think it, and are just ready when you need to go."

Cora Inniger — Whistler Community Services Society, Whistler Food Bank and the Re-Use It Centre.

When it comes to extremes, Whistler bed and breakfast owner Cora Inniger has experienced a few. Originally from the Philippines, Inniger swapped the tropics for snow when she moved with her husband to Switzerland and then a year later, in 1981, to Whistler. Moving from a Third World country to a first world country also brought its surprises.

"Before I moved here I thought everyone in Canada was rich and it was a real eye-opener to discover how much some people struggle, financially and emotionally," she says.