Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops has decided it will not seek its portion of search-related expenses from several rescued skiers over the holiday period.
The resort participated in four separate searches for skiers that had knowingly ventured past the marked ski area boundary into the backcountry and were unprepared.
“Our first concern is the safety of our guests,” says Darcy Alexander, general manager of Sun Peaks Resort Corporation. “In each case, Sun Peaks’ staff conducted an immediate search to utilize daylight, staff knowledge and proximity to the search area. We also contacted and supported Kamloops Search and Rescue, who bore the majority of costs in each of the searches.”
They corporation will however be asking the rescued skiers to use their recent experiences as an opportunity for public education about the risks of skiing beyond the resort boundary when unprepared, through open letters to media and other tools.
Sun Peaks Resort also supports any donations made to Kamloops Search and Rescue.
Sun Peaks’ policy, like most resorts in B.C., is to recover costs if the resort is asked by authorities to use its resources in a search outside of its ski area boundary. Every search costs thousands of dollars and repayment is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The resort costs are separate to the costs incurred by regional search and rescue teams, which are volunteer based and funded by the Provincial government.
“We are in the business of providing exceptional experiences to our guests,” says Alexander. “The message we want to convey is to respect ski area boundaries. Sun Peaks itself is the second largest ski area in B.C. and has ample challenging and exciting terrain within the ski area boundary. For those that choose to go into British Columbia’s backcountry, these rescues demonstrate the critical importance of being prepared with training, knowledge and appropriate equipment.”
“We are pleased all searches were successful,” adds Alexander. “And that the thousands of visitors to Sun Peaks during the holiday period are enjoying the resort’s favourable snow conditions in a safe and responsible manner. In fact, of the over 80,000 ski visits at Sun Peaks during the holiday period, only seven people were involved in the searches. It is important to keep in the context that the out of bounds searches involved a very small number of people compared to the large number of skiers who visit Sun Peaks resort each winter.”