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TIMESReview

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Volume 111, Number 47

$1.10 Includes GST

Snowmobilers survive Frisby Ridge avalanche ONE WINDS UP IN SURGERY; ANOTHER FOUND BARELY BREATHING ALEX COOPER Times Review

Kerri Cooper was entering a dreamlike state. Buried over his head by a series of avalanches, his brain was tricking him into thinking he was all right. “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,” he told the Times Review. “You think in your head at that time it’s going to be okay, but the reality is it’s the worst possible time. You actually want to close your eyes and go to sleep.” Cooper was anything but OK. Completely covered in snow for more than 10 minutes, he was close to death. Meanwhile, his friend Riley Tuplin was a metre away, screaming in pain as his leg was caught between a snowmobile and tree stump. Fortunately for the two of them, their two companions, Jeff Hodgson and Randy Kaup, emerged from the avalanche uncovered and were frantically working to dig them out. Cooper and Tauplin, both from the Lloydminster, Alberta area, and Hodgson and Kaup, both from Edmonton were out snowmobiling on Frisby Ridge just north of Revelstoke. The group are all experienced sledders and had been going out on trips together for the past five years, said Cooper. It was about 3 p.m. and they decided to head down into an area known as Dead Man’s Creek, with the thought of making it to the bottom of the slope and then onwards to the parking lot. They weren’t entirely sure of their plan, so Kaup 7

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went on ahead to scout things out. “We didn’t feel comfortable with going all the way to the bottom,” said Cooper, so they decided to head back out. Cooper walked down to help Kaup with his snowmobile. He was on his way back up when Kaup started to head back up the hill. “I fired up, turned up the hill and took off,” said Kaup. “After just about 30 feet or so it fractured above a ways off so I just rode out to the very top.” The first avalanche didn’t seem too serious, but then a second one stormed down the mountain. “I took two steps toward the tree and at that point I was buried,” said Cooper. He still had a hand loose, and was trying to wiggle his way out when a third slide swept over him, burying him completely. “I couldn’t do anything – blink or move a finger or nothing. You’re just struggling to breath and then you really panic,” Cooper said. “I just thought to myself I had to get the breathing under control and breath 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.” Meanwhile, Tuplin, who had been sitting on Cooper’s snowmobile, had been swept down and into a tree. He was buried completely and his leg was pinned between a stump and the sled. Hodgson and Taup both emerged from the avalanche unscathed. Hodgson was swept down the hill, but wasn’t covered. Taup rode it out and parked his sled out of harm’s way. The two met up and immediately began looking for the others. They activated their avalanche beacons and turned up two signals – one down below, and one a little See ‘Avalanche’ page 14

Three new Revelstoke authors discuss their works - 12, 13

RMR OPENING EARLY

RMR photo

Revelstoke Mountain Resort announced Friday it will be opening a week earlier than scheduled. The ski hill will run the Revelation Gondola and Stoke Chair on Saturday, Nov. 28, and Sunday, Nov. 29, for a sneak peak at the hill, a week ahead of the expected opening date of Dec. 5. Ticket prices will be reduced and the lifts will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The resort will then close down until Dec. 4, when it will re-open with all lifts running for the rest of the winter. According to a press release issued late Friday afternoon, the base depth at the weather plot at 1,950 metres is more than a metre deep. “Coverage looks great on the upper mountain,” states Steve Parsons, Director of Mountain Operations for Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Clanwilliam bridge construction to last three years AARON ORLANDO Times Review

The good news is faster, safer bridges are in the works for the Trans-Canada on either side of Revelstoke. The bad news is you’re likely going to spend some time sitting in construction delays for the next three years, though construction managers say they’ll do everything they can to minimize your delays. Construction is scheduled to start next summer on two major bridge replacement projects on

Aaron Orlando/Times Review

A consultant discusses the Clanwilliam project at a public open house in Revelstoke last week.

the Trans-Canada near Revelstoke. The Clanwilliam bridge replacement project will replace

a two-lane bridge that crosses the CPR rail line near ClanwilSee ‘Bridges page 9

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NEWS

14 ■ TIMESReview ■ WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2009

RONALD'S RAVE REVIEW Volunteer Adult Literacy Tutoring Program LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER TUTORS. The Volunteer Adult Literacy Tutoring Program (VLTP) and the English Language Services for Newcomers Program (ESLSAP) are looking for volunteer tutors to help adults improve their reading, writing, math and/or English language skills. For information call: Anita Hallewas (VLTP) and BR Whalen (ESLSAP) at 837-4235 Attention service groups, community and non-profit organizations, Kevin & Cathy Blakely of the Revelstoke McDonald's are pleased to sponsor this spot to present your message. Please call Mavis Cann at the Times Review with your information at 837-4667.

1880 Trans-Canada Hwy. 250-837-6230

GRIZZLIES PLAYER PROFILE 1. Name: Trevor Esau 2. Age: 17 3. Height: 6’4” 4. Weight: 204 lbs 5. Shoots: Left 6. Jersey number: 2 7. Position: Goalie 8. Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C. 9. Years with Grizzlies: 2 10. Nickname: Treesau, Tunnels, Stretch 11. Favourite NHL team: Vancouver Canucks 12. Childhood hockey hero: Trevor Linden 13. Favourite active NHL player: Mattius Ohlund 14. Community Involvement: Trevor is a student. He studies hard and is planning on a career in Egg Farming. 15. Hockey card trivia point: Although Trevor brings big hits and a huge presence in the defensive end, he has a soft spot for white kittens. He collects fine china and makes his own pottery. A very superstitious man, his words to live by are quite simple...a loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice had been cut from it.”

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Photo courtesy of Brent Veideman/The Photo House

The incident occurred in the Frisby Ridge area picture above. ‘Avalanche’ from page 1

higher up. Hodgson went down, Kaup went up. “I started booking back up hill,” said Kaup. “It was really hard going. It was deep snow up to our chest and a crust had formed on top.” The beep was coming from 40 metres up, near a tree. He got there, only to find a pile of snow six feet high where the signal was. “I saw Riley’s two fingers sticking out of the snow about an inch. He was wiggling them right over, behind the tree,” said Kaup. “I started to dig like crazy for his hand and grabbed it so he knew somebody was there. I dug down like crazy, got by his helmet and cleared it out. He was freaking out of course. We yelled at him, “You’re OK. We’ve got you. We’ve got you.” Kaup worked frantically to dig him out, and saw away the tree stump that was pressuring his leg. By this point Hodgson had determined that no one was down below and had joined in the digging. It was starting to get dark out. They turned off Tuplin’s beacon but the signal didn’t stop. It turns out, Cooper was only a metre away. By this point more than 10 minutes had passed. “Lo and behold, we look down and caught this little black thing,” said Kaup. It was Cooper’s balaclava. “We went to dig around his face, clear out his face,” said Kaup. “He looked dead. I mean, he was blue, there was zero response, his pupils were totally

dilated as big as saucers.” Kaup and Hodgson kept digging, looking for a sign of life. “I saw his eyes blink a little bit,” said Kaup. They removed snow from around his chest, until Cooper finally took a small breath. “I tapped on his face, saying ‘Please breathe! Breathe!’” said Kaup. Seeing that Cooper was alive and breathing, if just barely, Kaup and Hodgson returned their attention to Tuplin, alternately digging and sawing to free their friend’s trapped leg. “When we found Cooper we were happy,” said Kaup. “We knew we would all make it out alive.” The group still had to make it out of the area and back to the parking lot. Down to one snowmobile and with the sun setting, they slowly walked and sledded out of the area and back to the parking lot. Meanwhile, Hodgson contacted Revelstoke Search and Rescue (SAR) on his satellite phone but his battery cut out before he could let them know exactly where they were. SAR sent a team up, but because of the darkness they didn’t find the distressed party. When they got to the parking lot, an ambulance was there to greet them and take Tuplin to Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. He was released that night, but the next day his leg started to swell up and he was taken back to hospital. The swelling was so bad that was immediately rushed to a

hospital in Vernon for emergency surgery to deal with a blood clot. Cooper said he had a five centimetre by 12 centimetre opening cut on his leg to get the clotting out. Buck Corrigan, a manager with Revelstoke Search & Rescue, tried to get back to the site to dig out the buried snowmobiles and do a fracture line profile of the avalanche, but was unable to make it to the area due to weather. He said they were in a dangerous area for avalanches. “They were on the lea side of a huge ridge and the snow is drifting in very deep there,” he said. “It’s typical for early season conditions on lea-loaded slopes to be dangerous.” Anna Brown, an avalanche forecaster with the Canadian Avalanche Centre said the snowpack is unstable because of the continuous storm systems coming through the area. “It’s still sitting lightly on the terrain,” she said. “It hasn’t pressed in, it hasn’t had time to bond together, it hasn’t had time to squish in to the terrain and really set up.” Tuplin was still recuperating in a Vernon hospital as of Saturday afternoon. The other three were on their way back home, with their snowmobiles still buried in the mountains, when they were reached by phone and told their story. “I would like to get home,” said Cooper. “It seems like its a dream.”

REVELSTOKE HOCKEY LEAGUES Kootenay International Junior Hockey: League Statistics

DIVISION: Okanagan/Shuswap Conference: Okanagan Division TEAM GP W L T OTL Revelstoke Grizzlies24 18 3 1 2 Sicamous Eagles 24 15 8 0 1 Kamloops Storm 27 14 10 0 3 Princeton Posse 24 13 8 0 3 Chase Chiefs 26 13 10 0 3 Penticton Lakers 25 6 17 0 2 N OK Knights 24 3 19 0 2

PTS 39 31 31 29 29 14 8

GF 107 101 96 112 93 68 75

AVG 4.50 4.20 3.60 4.70 3.60 2.70 3.10

GA 65 82 93 99 86 117 119

AVG 2.70 3.40 3.40 4.10 3.30 4.70 5.00

PCT 0.813 0.646 0.574 0.604 0.558 0.280 0.167

L10 6-2-0-2 7-3-0-0 4-5-0-1 5-3-0-2 4-5-0-1 3-6-0-1 1-8-0-1


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