A very worrying verdict - let’s hope, for the sake of people’s freedom to enjoy adventure in a manner they think fit, this does not herald a trend. If people want to undertake adventurous sports, even in a reckless manner, that should be a matter for them - as long as it does not impose on the welfare of others. It should not be of any interest to the courts. Clearly this court does not understand the value of and the yearning for adventure that frees so many of us from what might otherwise be the humdrum monotony of everyday life. And with that, not only comes immeasurable benefits to those brave enough to take the risks but to society at-large. I hope this is appealed, so that right and common sense prevails.
Of course we don’t know all the facts of the case, but as someone who spends a large part of his professional life leading ski touring groups (I am an IFMGA mountain guide), I cannot imagine any circumstances which would justify this verdict. Qualified guides know we will always have responsibility in the mountains whether or not we are working, but can recreational skiers really be expected to shoulder this enormous legal liability, or worse are we to just let them find out about it when the worst happens? It seems the wife’s beacon was in her own sac at the time of the accident; does this mean then that if my wife is injured while not wearing a seatbelt when I am driving, I could be prosecuted? I have after all been driving a few years longer than her.
@John - yes definitely. In a car there is a clear responsibility on the part of the driver as the one in charge of the vehicle, and in many countries the law is exactly as you state. The driver must make sure all passengers are wearing their safety belts before heading off ... I think it is not a good comparison in any case.
The driver of a car has total control of the vehicle (hence the term passenger). In a group each skier decides where they should go. But here the avalanche was set off from above. There are many studies on the heuristics of avalanche accidents and how group dynamics can play into an individuals’ decision to wear or not wear a beacon and to ski or not ski a certain slope. I think the easy thing is - just wear it ... bring it, wear it, turn it on. Why even make it into a decision? It is an easy piece of kit to wear. Should this guy be punished for his wife not wearing it ? I don’t agree with the court. I am just bringing up something totaly unrelated - common sense.
Yes - a very worrying verdict that surely has implications beyond ski-touring for any adventure activity and that impacts upon our various reasons for doing those activities. If the ‘passenger in a car’ analogy is not the best (as there are legal reasons as ‘Firechick’ says) then maybe a better comparison is a couple out cycling and deciding not to wear helmets (as, I believe, there is no legal requirement to do so); one falls/collides with a wall/whatever and suffers fatal head injuries. Should the other be done for manslaughter? I think not!? The commonsense is to wear a helmet and the commonsense is to switch one’s transceiver on.
There is a couple of issue here that would of lead to the proceedings
1. Instructor was being paid to guide the group
2. Since it was a fee paying exercise avalanche protocols must be adhered to clearly this was not the case.
Remember if you receive money for an activity you are deemed responsible for your actions.