At one time the whistle of the hoary marmot could be heard all over the local mountains. The animals were so plentiful on London Mountain that the locals renamed it Whistler Mountain.
But about a year ago, when Paul Burrows first went to look for a whistle in Whistler, he couldn’t find one.
"We thought that was odd so we researched it and found an Ontario manufacturer, had some discussions and did some market research," he says.
The result is the release this week of The Whistler, a Canadian-made whistle with a penetrating sound that has been measured at 115 decibels. Paul and Jane Burrows are marketing the whistles — with a marmot logo on each one — as safety devices.
"It’s been endorsed by both local ski patrols and the provincial emergency program," says Burrows. The Whistler Search and Rescue team may also use the whistle with their parabolic antenna. The whistle noise can be programmed into the antenna and then used to locate lost hikers and skiers, providing they have a whistle.
"Our goal is to make sure everyone who goes skiing or boarding in Western Canada has a whistle," Burrows says.
Whistles have been given to the professional patrollers on both mountains, made available to volunteer patrollers and ski friends at a discount price and will be attached to the bibs worn by children in the Ski Scamps and Kids Kamp programs. Burrows would also like to see a whistle included with the sale of each season pass.
Burrows, who came to Whistler as a ski patroller, points out that the whistle is not limited to recreational safety. He describes the piercing sound as a "verbal mace" that may provide a margin of safety in an underground parking lot or while hitchhiking.
The Whistler is a Fox 40 pea-less whistle. It’s made of A.B.S. plastic and has no moving parts to jam up, freeze or corrode. It can also be disinfected easily.
The whistle was used by the U.S. Army in Desert Storm and by rescuers in the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s made in Ontario, packaged in Whistler and has a suggested retail price of $5.95. It’s available throughout Whistler.