An incident that left a climber critically injured in Banff National Park this week is a reminder of why helmets should be worn at all times when taking part in the activity, according to a national mountain guide organization.
Parks Canada said that three climbers were struck by part of a dead tree at the bottom of Outhouse Wall, near Lake Louise Tuesday afternoon. One was not wearing a helmet and suffered critical injuries, according to the agency’s statement.
“It’s a good risk management piece to wear a helmet,” Peter Tucker, the executive director of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), said Wednesday.
“If you are close enough to the bottom of the climb that you might get hit by falling rock, or in this case a tree, which is incredibly unusual, then it makes even more sense to be wearing the helmet all the time.”
Parks Canada confirmed that the two other injured climbers were wearing helmets. One was transported to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, while the other was able to leave the area on their own.
“Parks Canada would like to remind all visitors who engage in activities like rock climbing to be aware of the inherent risks associated with these activities,” a statement from the agency read.
“Remember to be aware of your surroundings and use the appropriate safety and protective equipment.”
Most climbers do wear helmets, according to Tucker, however he said it’s not unusual for people to take it off at the base of a climb.
“Preparing yourself with the right equipment, the right education around how to use that equipment is absolutely critical to any kind of outdoor activity where there is some level of risk,” Tucker said.
“I feel really awful that this happened… my heart really goes out to the family.”