Michael Coyle 
Member since Dec 1, 2011



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Recent Comments

Re: “Death of hiker in Squamish triggers concerns about ease of backcountry access

My feeling is that the organizations that increase accessibility to the backcountry also have a duty to inform people about the risks, and give them information about the conditions they will encounter if they leave the tenure. I know the S2S gondola is very new, but there is almost no information in the form of maps, with labeled features and distances, or even photographs on what the terrain is like outside the tenure.

It's not enough to build the gondola, and then claim that what happens outside your tenure is not your fault. This is exacerbated by the claims that the terrain is "extreme" and recommending the use of a guide - all mountains have such terrain. Sky Pilot is a beginner mountain for many mountaineers.

All I am looking for is the kind of basic information about the terrain that you would find in any scrambling, hiking or climbing guidebook. For the S2S gondola, this would mean a kiosk where the trail leaves the tenure with a topographic map, the peaks labeled, and information on the equipment that would normally be required to do those routes.

This is already done in many BC parks, BC Hydro Recreation areas, and in Canada Parks. It's simple, and considered best practise among outdoor professionals.

21 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Michael Coyle on 07/11/2014 at 9:52 AM

Re: “Supreme court ruling favouring ski buddy system good for area heli tour operators

I kinda see this the other way.

I see this decision telling the backcountry community that the ski buddy system is completely bogus, and you have no legal reason to stay with your buddy. You can do whatever you want and there are no repercussions.

Rather than enshrining the ski buddy system, which means we're all morally responsible for our friends, this decision pretty much blows it away.

The good Samaritan laws protect people who try to rescue each other, so that is a completely separate issue, nobody seriously thinks this would stop people from trying to rescue each other. Quite the opposite, if there was liability in this case it would have said to heli skiers that you are *required* to help to the best of your ability.

While I'm not a big fan of legal requirements, I was surprised that there was zero liability in this case. Backcountry codes are that you help your buddies, and something clearly went wrong in this case.

I would not want to see the accused held completely responsible, but I thought that there would have been some requirement that enforced the expectation that they stay together.

0 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Michael Coyle on 02/10/2014 at 11:29 AM

Re: “B.C.'s Search and Rescue model under scrutiny

BCSARA did post a list of it's achievements on their web site.

As far as "taking the government to task" BCSARA has indeed just finished a careful analysis of the funding model in BC and will be submitting it's recommendations to government soon.

Speaking as a SAR member I would appreciate it if all the teams would pull together instead of grandstanding on issues like this.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Michael Coyle on 08/25/2013 at 8:44 PM

Re: “B.C.'s Search and Rescue model under scrutiny

I think that the burden of evidence is on the person making the call that the system is "unsustainable" to show how that is true (define the problem), and to show how the proposed solutions fix the problem.

I also think that your comments on BCSARA being in the government's pocket are a little funny considering all of the funding we are talking about here (99% BC Gaming grants) is the same source for all of the SAR groups and BCSARA -- we're all working for the government.

Much credit to Tim for bringing this up in the public sphere, but people much more experienced than he and much higher on the volunteer pay scale have been working on this for a long time. In 2002 a proposal was brought forward for SAR groups to create business plans that would lay out how much it takes to run the SAR program on a yearly basis. This would allow various agencies to see how much value the SAR groups are bringing to society, and would go a long way toward justifying their funding claims.

Tim's proposals to "fix" the system are, however, outlandish and in no way make the system more sustainable -- just as throwing more money at any problem can appear to "fix" the problem, he seems to be asking for millions of dollars without defining what it is he wants to accomplish.

The only thing unsustainable about BC's search and rescue system is the funding model that does not send resources to where they are needed. SAR groups scrabble for a grants and donations and there is no oversight that tracks where funds are most needed. This results in massive disparity in SAR group funding where some teams get no support and others get more than they need.

In 2011 the review of the BC Gaming grants concluded.
"Community groups, such as BC Search and Rescue, provide essential, life-saving services.
throughout the province. It may be more appropriate for government to fund these.
organizations directly (for example, through Emergency Management BC) rather than through.
gaming grants."

I have no doubt that some day BC will require a professional rescue crew to respond to certain tasks, and when that day comes I hope they will be full time rescuers trained to similar standards as the 442 rescue squadron, Parks Canada Mountain Safety Specialists, or Kananaskis Country Safety specialist and not volunteers.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Michael Coyle on 08/19/2013 at 3:29 PM

Re: “Blackburn offered settlement in backcountry lawsuit

All people who go into the backcountry do so willingly, even those who run into trouble and need rescuing. Just like people who smoke, or drink too much, they still deserve to be rescued regardless of who you think might be at fault. Stop blaming the victim here.

As a 12 year SAR veteran, I support Mt Blackburn's right to sue. Something went very wrong in this incident and both the public, and the SAR community deserve to know what it is so it can be prevented.

Unfortunately there are only a very few ways to get to the truth -- one of which is an inquiry such as in the Sweatman case. This does not seem to be forthcoming. The other is a lawsuit which gives lawyers the power of discovery and can put witnesses on the stand for testimony.

I'm very sad to hear that there is a settlement in the offing. This means that the public and the SAR community may never know WHY there was no response, and why such a simple reacue was ignored.

6 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Michael Coyle on 12/01/2011 at 1:15 PM

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