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Whistler, Blackomb Glacier. Goodbye Gianka

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I don't know if this has already been brought up.
This morning at breakfast I was reading the weekly paper which covers my
area news and right on the front page a title captured my attention, it was reporting the death of a person I knew, the snowboard section manager of a local sport shops chain.
He was a very friendly and chatting fellow, always available to a small talk even if one was not going to buy anything and was just "window-shopping".
You might wonder, why a two plankers like myself would enter a snowboard shop and chat to the manager (but then I did buy stuff from that shop, helmets, jackets, trousers and the likes). I'd say, why not.
My acquittance with him started just like that, I was researching shops for helmets, helmets which did not have a "racer-like" aspect if possible (to be clear Helmets like the Dainese one).
In the end I bought the helmet there, but that's beyond the purpose of my post.
Giancarlo is no more here with us, that's the point. No more friendly chats about helmets, snowboard hard boots/bindings, GS planks (Yes, had I have the $$$$ I was thinking to buy a GS board) inline skates.
He won a holiday from his employer for his commitment to his job.
And never came back.
This is what I found researching the net

This morning the shop e-zine opened with an "in-memoriam"
Goodbye Gianka.
post #2 of 12
post #3 of 12
Nobody .... it always hurts when it is someone we know and in that respect, I have been fortunate.

Over the past days I had been mulling over the number of deaths that have befallen the experienced and the beginners.

There is indeed value in your post, if it is only to bring home the notion that it can happen to any of us. Beginner, racer warming up, or in your friends case just hiking to get some turns, something can go wrong.

This ain't Disney World.

post #4 of 12
Although I dislike speculating on accidents, and this observation would in no way have prevented it, it sounds like Gianka slipped and fell but failed to make enough noise to alert his companion. This might have simplified the search effort.

It's been my personal observation that when I get in trouble that I get so internally focused that the "movie scream" just does not happen. Guys (at least, I have not had personal experience with women in potentially fatal situations) will readily yell out to alert people when the other person is in danger, but it seems that many of us don't naturally do it to alert other people when we are in danger. My guess is that this is a skill we should practice before entering the back country, but is not something that has been covered when I've been on guided experiences, probably because the instruction has been to keep other party members in sight. This can be difficult to do when hiking. It seems to me that it would pretty hard to be cool enough to yell out "I'm going over a cliff" or "Tree well" kind of information that could help search and recovery efforts.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Reading the other guy recount on the paper, at one point of the run they took two different or diverging paths. The survivor reached the groomed slope some ten minutes afterwards. Only then he realized that he was alone...
He also says that his unclear English language made it difficult to make the patrollers react instantly...
post #6 of 12
The English part is unavoidable. The splitting up and travelling alone is a backcountry no no. I was speculating on this kind of accident happening to parties traveling in a group, my behavioural observation would not apply to being alone.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Agree, a person who's not L1 English, and who's scared/tired/stressed , will forcefully have problems explaining himself/herself. It will only add to the confusion, and cause more stress to be build in an already stressful situation.
I like the comment about making enough noise to attract our companions attention. But think, like you, that behaviorally we're "programmed" not to automatically scream information while in a stressfull/sudden accident but tend to internalize.

And with the traveling alone. Many years ago a colleague of mine ventured back country in German speaking Switzerland, alone because his mate couldn't. He was a guide, but that didn't save him from falling in to a crevasse...
His body was found a week later, after he failed to make a busienss rendez- vous and the alarm was risen.

A thought about their splitting is whether it occurred intentionally (and the reason for it, if that's the case) or un-intentionally due to the poor visibility...
In either case, the "survivor" has been lucky to choose the path home, had been Gianka following him, they would be both home now.
That's bad luck at its highest.
post #8 of 12
I mention this for a couple of a reasons:
1) In my experience snowboard boots have less sure footing on hard snow than ski boots do. There are times when, in hindsight, I wish I'd had an ice axe just in case.
2) Losing your footing can be a hit or miss proposition. What's ok for one person might not be ok for the next. Just because one lap was successful does not reduce the risk on subsequent laps.
3) In impromptu backcountry hiking it's my observation that the person in the lead often does not check back often enough and that up front discussions covering communication responsibilities rarely occurs. This happens mostly because of the assumption that the severity of the terrain does not warrant extreme caution.
post #9 of 12
My condolences Matteo.

The quote from a spokesman from H.V. after last weekend's death of a well know skier, "it's an inherintly dangerous sport"

My thoughts? So is crossing the road to get the newspaper or going to the mall to shop. Life is not forever lest we forget our own mortality.

My thoughts to the family.
post #10 of 12
Rusty you talking about snowboard boots not boot packing as well as ski boots is spot on. I climbed a 45 degree couloir in my snowboard boots where I thought I was going to fall over a 100 ft plus cliff. My buddies in AT boots had no issues and I was just gripped. The slightest leg tremor and it was slide city. Since that experience, I've been much more careful of this sort of situation. Sometimes you start off on something that seems easy enough and just find yourself in a dangerous situation before you know it. Sorry if I got a little about "me" on this. Regardless of what mistakes were made he lost his life and his friends and family are poorer because of it.

post #11 of 12
yeah - i hate to hijack the thread, but I always like to see if we can learn something from events like these. It's the best way to honor those who've fallen before us. The accident report brought memories of past experiences where I've been close to the same kind of accident without taking all of the precautions that I've learned about later and reminding me that I've still got more to learn.
post #12 of 12
wow, too many tragedies in one season.

I plan to visit Whistler in FEB 09'
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