Nowhere loves a good party more than Whistler does.
But just like a 20-something begins to understand that it is more important to live to the next morning than try a death-defying act, parties have to grow up too.
Part of that evolution is understanding that our actions impact the lives of others, and when partying goes U.S., Spring Break-style wild those "others" in Whistler are ski patrol, the RCMP, Whistler Blackcomb (WB) night staff and even search and rescue.
Who didn't enjoy the photos of the nearly nude and nude snowboarders doing their best St. Paddy's Day's tricks at the Peak party March 17 (as WB said, it was clearly cold at the time...), which got great play on the Internet?
Just about everyone who saw those probably wished they were there in the blazing sunshine of this No. 1 rated snow resort, enjoying a Guinness or whatever the pleasure was of the partiers. There was even a DJ, I hear.
And if the party had shut down with the coming darkness, and there had been a plan in place to make sure everyone got down the mountain safely, and people had set up a buddy system, then maybe, just maybe, ski patrol and police wouldn't have been working almost all night.
RCMP got calls from lost Peak party attendees trying to make their way out in the dark only to have those on the phone come across others who had been reported missing and were still lost.
Thankfully the police reached WB night patrol and everyone was found.
But the fallout of the frolic was frightful. WB had to shut down Peak Chair in the afternoon — to everyone.
All plans to groom that side of the mountain — Upper Peak, Franz's, Highway 86 and so on were put on hold because groomers felt it wasn't safe for all those trying to get down the mountain after hours — skiers and boarders who were likely intoxicated at the time. Indeed groomers were driving around all night looking for people in distress. Ski patrol worked until 3 a.m.
The party was just out of bounds, but that doesn't mean that WB patrol and safety officials are going to turn their backs on the revellers — they are the frontline of defence.
Every year, sometimes more than once, Pique reminds people through the voices of WB, search and rescue and others that if you go out of bounds then you must be prepared — that means the right clothing, food, water, a plan for getting back (which includes letting people know where you are and when you will be back), and even self-rescue equipment.
I'm thinking just about nobody had this equipment in their backpacks — the packs were likely filled with other things.
Fortunately, as far as we know, nothing serious happened this time. But with this adventure's success it is more than likely that another mountainside party will be planned. But make no mistake, WB and the RCMP won't let this type of party happen again if they can help it. In the future, season's passes, cards and tickets will be hot-listed for violations says WB.
The mountains are majestic and they call to just about everyone who lives here.
But it's not a symbiotic relationship. Nature doesn't give a damn what happens to us on the mountains. If we drink ourselves sick and don't make it down and die of hypothermia, nature doesn't care. That's one more weeded out of the DNA stream.
But people care. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family and friends care. Whistler cares — a lot.
Here's hoping that everyone who got a helping hand in the long hours after the St. Paddy's Day Peak party wrapped up takes the time to reach out and say thanks to those who spent the night making sure everyone was safe.
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