Avalanche survivors share their story in the hopes of saving lives 

Risk of avalanche stays high in Sea to Sky country

click to flip through (5) PHOTO BY LEE LAU - Richard and Phil look towards Fissile from Oboe.
 

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"The sense to me was a total loss of control", says Lau, recalling the life-changing incident almost three years later.

"My operative thoughts were to keep my feet below me, on the grounds that you try to keep a sense of gravity so if anything smashes it's your legs.

"The awareness that I wasn't tumbling was from the fact that I could feel the gravity below me, until I was in the air. At that point I was like, 'Great. I'm dead.'"

In these seconds, as Lau knew he was being carried off a precipice by a force only Mother Nature could wield, the important things in his life became instantly apparent.

"The first thought was 'I've got to stop this.' When that didn't happen, I distinctively remember feeling an immense amount of regret. Regret that I wouldn't see my mom and dad and my wife Sharon again."

During the 30 seconds it took to get to the lip of the large cliffs that Lau knew were there, he actually managed to maintain his composure. But the few short seconds of cartwheeling through the air to an uncertain doom almost seemed to creep by.

"I had way too much time to think about regrets..."

A PERFECT DAY

You couldn't have asked for a better Saturday to go ski touring on April 10, 2010. A deep spring snowpack padded by recent storms, clear blue skies and a confident avalanche bulletin all came together for the group. Lau and his two friends, Phillip Post and Drechsler, departed the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain at 9 a.m. After a quick ride up the Peak Chair the trio bee-lined for Flute Bowl. All having exceptional physical fitness, they managed to reach the bottom of Cowboy Ridge in less than an hour. Several large storms had rolled through the Coast Mountains in the previous few weeks, giving the group joyous, powder-filled descents through the treed terrain as they made their way towards Fissile Mountain, the prominent pyramidal peak visible from Whistler Blackcomb.

With a prompt morning start and plenty of spring daylight, the group journeyed out with the intention of skiing several laps off the peak of Fissile. The howling wind felt during their approach had died down as they skinned their way up the gentle slopes of Whirlwind, Fissile's adjoining peak. It was around noon when they approached the summit of Fissile and began discussing their next move.

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