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I was skiing with three friends at Lake Louise in 1995. We were heading over to “Rock Garden” on the far side of the mountain. On the way, we took a tree run. Only three of the four of us made it out. Where was Dick? We waited a while before trudging up into the woods to find him. It didn’t take long: In attempting to ski across a small creek, he had broken through the ice and was hanging by his armpits! It took a while to fish him out. If you ever doubt the wisdom of carrying a loud whistle, remember this incident. We went back and skied Rock Garden the next day.


  1. Don Burch says:

    I always enjoy your illustrations. Great title.

  2. Paul Lucke says:

    Nice story, great drawing, loved the little goldfish, horrible experience for the guy in the river. Even a shallow stream is unpleasant because you can get very wet and cold if you crash into a few inches of water (thank you hidden tree stump!) and if you just paddle across it onto the bank the snow immediately freezes on your wet skis and boots and you end up walking along with huge canoes of wet snow freezing onto your skis and boots and you have to take the skis off and try to scrape off the ice on tree-trunks and branches if you don’t have a scraper of some kind. You can’t start the skis sliding again until you have cleaned and dried the ski base of all the ice and water. Then you want to get back to base to dry out and warm up. If it is a long way back to civilisation you could be at real risk of dying of exposure if you are on your own in bad weather but your buddies want to keep on skiing and you know they are cursing you and hoping that they are not the ones who have to get you back to base even if they don’t say anything and that is your ski day done anyway (who takes spare boots on holiday?) Depending on how bad the actual circumstances are, calling Ski Patrol might be the safest if most galling option! I was lucky enough to be at the edge of the wood at the top of linked blue runs back to base and not too wet on a -8C day with a bit of sun showing so I just waved goodbye and squelched back to my room for a hot shower and spent the rest of the day in communion with a tumble dryer for my clothes and a hair dryer for my boots.

    In my experience (a lot) always buddy up for tree-skiing and keep in sight or hearing with your buddy. Wear bright jackets. If you are leading keep pausing to make sure your buddy is still with you. Hoot ‘n holler or give a few long whistle blasts to indicate where you are if you lose sight of each other. If your hear your buddy whistle stop and shout back to give him a direction to aim for and wait where you are easily visible. Keep calling or whistling till he gets back in sview Take an Acme Thunderer football ref’s whistle each, if you are in real trouble and can’t move blow SOS (dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot). Walkie-talkies are still available in hobby shops or on eBay. Make sure the batteries are OK and you have spares with you. Whistles and Shouts are directional but W-Talkies are not so take both It is almost impossible to just describe where you are in a wood unless you both know the area well and there are signpost features to steer by. Tree-skiing is the best fun, don’t miss out on the experience but stay out of streams and rivers!

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