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Whistler teen breaks leg on closed trail, others refuse to help

WB says A-Line is well posted as a closed area



Josh Robertson knows he shouldn't have been skiing out down A-Line on Whistler Mountain.

The trail is closed to skiers, open only in the summer for mountain bikers.

But the local 16-year-old B.C. ski cross team member was no stranger to the tightly treed trail or the prominent "Rock Drop" feature in it. It's just that this time around, things didn't pan out as they normally do.

"As soon as I left the ground (from Rock Drop) I could see that there were probably five other guys spread about the landing," said Robertson from his bed at Lions Gate Hospital.

He's been lying there since Tuesday, March 2, his right leg broken in three places, his kneecap shattered, his season over, one surgery under his belt and more to come this week.

Robertson said he remembers making eye contact with a rider at the top of the jump and with no yelled warnings, assumed it was safe to go.

It wasn't.

He tried to avoid the people at the bottom and veered straight into a tree. The impact shattered his leg.

"I personally will never go down that trail again, except in the summer, on a bike. It's obviously closed for a reason... I didn't realize so many people walk up it."

Robertson said the five riders at the bottom of the landing didn't have passes. That was why they were walking up the trail, and also why no one was willing to help him when he found himself stuck in a tree well, his right ski wedged under him and turned at a 90-degree angle.

His friend, who followed him into A-Line, tried to help; everyone else, he said, just stared on.

"No one else would even touch me or try and help me," said Robertson.

They all claimed they didn't have a cell phone, a fact Robertson finds hard to believe. He was forced to dig around his pockets for his own phone, Google ski patrol, and call for help himself.

The riders disappeared before ski patrol came on the scene, leaving him in the tree well with just his skiing buddy for company.

"I couldn't believe it," said Robertson. "When they left, I honestly couldn't believe it.

"If I hadn't had a cell phone or I hadn't been able to find the number for ski patrol, I don't know how long I would have been in there."

Safety supervisor for Whistler Blackcomb Peter Jean said he couldn't comment specifically on this incident. But he reiterated that A-Line is not a winter trail.

"It's a summer bike trail and it's got closed signs at the entrances into it from every run," said Jean.

"The reason why it's closed is because it's got hazards in it."

As for the riders who were walking up the trail, Jean said Whistler Blackcomb often turns away people walking up the hill.

"I haven't heard of A-Line being a route but that's not to say it doesn't happen."

Jean also reiterated point number five in the Alpine Responsibility Code which states that if you are involved or witness an accident you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to ski patrol.

"That's something everyone should be doing, whether you're in a closed area or not a closed area," said Jean.

Now Robertson is facing a long recovery. There will be no more skiing this season and mountain biking is out this summer.

His dream, however, is to one day compete in ski cross at the highest level, so he plans to do everything he can to realize that and have a speedy recovery.

And he wants people to know about the dangers and learn from his mistake.

"If anyone else were to end their season like this... it's just really unfortunate."