Mountain News 

Hallucinations began before buried snowmobiler recovered


REVELSTOKE, B.C. - Four snowmobilers sledding on wind-loaded slopes north of Revelstoke got unlucky - and then very lucky. All four survived, but it was a close one for Kerry Cooper. The drainage where they got hit was called Dead Man's Creek, and the name came close to foretelling their fate.

Cooper told the Revelstoke Times Review that after being buried under six feet of snow in a series of three avalanches, he was unable to move, even to wiggle a finger.

"I couldn't do anything - blink or move a finger or nothing," he told the newspaper. "You're just struggling to breathe, and then you really panic. I just thought to myself I had to get the breathing under control and breathe as slowly as possible, otherwise I'm going to expend everything right away. Then after a while, even with the slow breathing, your lungs start to burn and that gets painful. Then that goes away because you're asphyxiated and you lack oxygen in the brain."

One of Cooper's companions was buried within a few feet of him, and the two other snowmobilers were able to locate him because of transceiver signals. But when they had dug him partly out and turned off his beacon, they realized there was a still a signal. That's when they feverishly began digging for Cooper.

"You start to hallucinate, go in and out, and then it just goes to your mind, 'Well, I'll just go to sleep. It will be OK.' You think in your head at that time it's going to be OK, but the reality is it's the worst possible time. You actually want to close your eyes and go to sleep."

By then, he had been covered for 10 minutes. His companions saw a portion of balaclava, and dug down around his face. "He looked dead," said companion Randy Kaup. "I mean, he was blue. There was zero response. His pupils were totally dilated as big as saucers."

They kept digging and saw his eyes blink a little. They removed snow from around his chest and he finally took a small breath.


Empty storefronts plentiful

ASPEN, Colo.-Aspen's usually robust retail and restaurant sector has plenty of empty storefronts this year, by some estimates eight to 10 per cent.

It is, according to commercial broker Karen Setterfield, the highest vacancy rate she's seen in 23 years.

"When you are 100 per cent occupied and you all of a sudden see 7 per cent vacancy, it all looks like it's vacant," said Bill Small, a commercial real estate broker.

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