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Letters to the Editor for the week of January 15th

What's in a name Thanks Dan Redford for the clarification on the origin of D.O.A. ( Pique , Jan 8). I have been trying to tell anyone who would listen about it for years. I remember a day or two after Dan and Trevor Petersen first skied it, D.O.
Skiing spectacular Whistler photographer Ashley Barker won the 72-hour Deep Winter Photo Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 10, taking home a cheque for $5,000 and the title Queen of Storms. “Conditions were terrible but we all stuck together!” said Barker of her team. Idaho’s Tal Roberts came second, winning $2,500 and Whistler’s Mike Helfrich came third, winning $1,500. Photo by Ashley Barker

What's in a name

Thanks Dan Redford for the clarification on the origin of D.O.A. (Pique, Jan 8). I have been trying to tell anyone who would listen about it for years.

I remember a day or two after Dan and Trevor Petersen first skied it, D.O.A was revisited by the usual gang of suspects of the time and after skiing it in fine fashion we met Peter Xhignesse (Xhiggy's Meadow) on the way back to the T-Bar.

He was beaming like a proud new father and simply stated, "I was wondering how long it was going to take you guys to figure that out."

On a further note about Blackcomb names, originally there was no Spanky to name a ladder after, and instead of jewels there was only Spankys, Spankys Shoulder, Helter Skelter (after the Beatles song) Christmas Couloir and Showcase Chute. Ask "So Hughes" how Spankys really got its name!

Those were the good old days.

Chris (Freddy Boy) Bahrey


Let's keep trail clean

Stu Sjolies is at it again! Now that the snow has come to the valley, Stu has ploughed and flattened "Stu's Stroll" at Nick North (the trail adjacent to the train tracks and alongside the homes) for dogs and walkers.

He has even left out the garbage bin so dog owners can dispose of the waste there. BUT — this is a privilege so please don't abuse it. 

Stu is the mechanic at Nick North and maintains this trail of his own volition. Please appreciate his efforts and the generosity of Nicklaus North Golf Course by picking up after your dogs and disposing of the waste bag appropriately.

We dog walkers appreciate Stu's efforts and hope that he will continue to keep this trail open, but please help him by keeping the trail clean. 

Maureen Richmond


Take your time

Like many Whistler locals, I have strong opinions on a few select subjects that I may or may not be a qualified expert on. One of them is winter, and navigating my way through it in an automobile.

Thank you Nancy Henderson for you're well balanced take on travelling southbound on Hwy. 99 Sunday, January 4 (Pique, Jan 8). This is my take travelling northbound.

I grew up in Calgary, skied 50-day seasons in Banff driving winter highways at speed. Gained an excess of confidence.

Not many people can do a front flip on skis. I sure can't. I have, however, done a front flip in a car at the summit of Rogers pass while endangering more than a dozen other people's lives. I will never forget the sight of a windshield stopping a few centimetres from my face.

Looking back, all I could think about was how many people around I could have possibly caused harm to because of my lack of patience, poor judgment and over confidence.

I have also plowed into someone who spun across the highway making that same mistake of being overconfident and will feel the discomfort of that moment on a daily basis for the rest of my life.

No one has a right to pass another car when the road hasn't been plowed. I don't care if you have a white Audi with high-tech traction control and proper winter tires.

I don't care if you've become impatient staring at my taillights and wish to arrive at your destination five minutes prior to my arrival. I don't expect you'd have a beer waiting for me.

You can't control the laws Isaac Newton discovered hundreds of years ago. Doing so is a blatant disregard for your safety and more importantly those around you.

Sit tight, watch the lights in front of you like a hawk, go slow and keep a safe distance (one-one thousand, two-one thousand). It may save your life.

At the very least it will save the people around you who will pile into you when you fail. Don't take my life into your hands because of your overconfidence and lack of patience, you have no right.

We are all going fast enough. We will all get there in time. We shouldn't even be going anywhere in the first place.

Overconfident drivers change lives.

Jon Parris


Mental illness doesn't target specific groups

Over the course of our lifetime we each experience feelings of isolation or loneliness and emotional distress. These are just a part of life, aren't they? We make do or find ways to cope until the situation gets better or goes away. Unfortunately, for some the duration and intensity of painful feelings or disorienting thoughts do not just go away. Instead, they interfere with everyday life. Their usual coping skills are overwhelmed and restoring a balance is difficult.

Mental illness will affect every one of us. For about a fifth, they will personally experience a mental illness during their lifetime. The balance will be affected by an illness in family members or someone close to them. There is no bias to mental illness: it affects people of all ages, educational and income levels and cultures.

Mental illnesses are characterized by alterations in thinking; mood or behaviour (or some combination) associated with significant distress and impaired functioning. The symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on the type of illness, the individual and their environment.

As complex as mental illnesses are, they can be loosely categorized into five main types.

Mood disorders include major depression, bipolar disorder (combining episodes of both mania and depression) and dysthymia (essentially a chronically depressed mood). About eight per cent of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.

Schizophrenia affects about one percent of Canadians. It is a brain disease characterized by symptoms like mixed-up thoughts, delusions, hallucinations and bizarre behaviour. Like many mental illnesses, its onset is usually in early adulthood.

Everyone feels anxious in certain situations, but people with anxiety disorders develop excessive and unrealistic feelings that interfere in their lives. They will either avoid situations causing them anxiety or will develop compulsive rituals that lessen the anxiety. Anxiety disorders affect 12 per cent of the population, causing mild to severe impairment.

Personality disorders include characteristics like difficulty getting along with others, irritability, being demanding, hostile or fearful. People will have patterns of behaviour deviate markedly from society's expectations and remain consistent over time.

Eating disorders are another category of mental illness, one which will affect three per cent of girls or women in their lifetimes. Eating disorders involve a serious disturbance in eating behaviour; either eating too much or too little. In addition, it normally leads to great concern over body size and shape. Eating disorders carry with them a high risk of other mental and physical illnesses that can lead to death.

The best thing we can do is to be aware of the prevalence of mental illness and to at least understand the basic nature of it. The stigma attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community. We should always remember that mental illness is just that, an illness. And it is an illness that can be treated effectively.

Dr. Paul Martiquet

Medical Health Officer for Sea to Sky