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Letter to the Editor: Rescued snowboarder offers thanks—and a warning

'I did not duck a rope nor go through any barriers. I only saw a small caution sign not unlike the ones at the start of black runs warning about steep and ungroomed terrain, and that did not deter me.'
Whistler SAR dec 19 snowboarder rescue
The red arrow points to Wen Yi Toh, a snowboarder visiting B.C. from Singapore who was rescued last month after getting lost on Whistler Mountain and spending two nights outdoors.

I am the Singaporean snowboarder that Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) picked up from the south side of Whistler Mountain, also known as Cake Hole, on Dec. 19, 2021. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the team behind this rescue operation, especially the brave and vigilant people that spotted me from the helicopter that fateful morning. Words cannot describe the sense of relief and hope I felt when I saw a rescuer descending towards me.

I am recovering well at home and my condition could be infinitely worse if not for the swift action taken by the WSAR team, as well as the RCMP. I would also like to thank all the health-care workers and paramedics that attended to me at the Whistler Health Care Centre and Lions Gate Hospital. Their attention to detail and professionalism were instrumental to my recovery.

Special mention to Terry Salman, Singapore’s Consul-General in Vancouver, for his incredible support during this trying period, and to my friend, Kevin Yap, for being the first to report my disappearance. It was his relentless pursuit, contacting all the relevant agencies and leaving no options unexplored, that led to my swift rescue.

More importantly, I hope to prevent similar tragedies from happening to others in the future. I remember I followed some skiers off the right side of Mathew’s Traverse on top of Whistler Mountain. I did not duck a rope nor go through any barriers. I only saw a small caution sign not unlike the ones at the start of black runs warning about steep and ungroomed terrain, and that did not deter me.

Very unfortunately, that was a grave mistake. I can imagine an intermediate skier or snowboarder without knowledge of the terrain could have had a similar thought process and made the same mistake as me. I feel this could be prevented with more prominent signage on the piste warning about the dangers on the south side of Whistler Mountain. I also hope more could be done in terms of roping off access to create a physical barrier to prevent the unknowing tourist from falling into tragedy. All these efforts could help to create a safer environment for all and further boost the reputation of Whistler Blackcomb as a world- class winter destination.

Finally, I would like to wish the Whistler community all the best and a safe season ahead.

Wen Yi Toh // Singapore