Peter Bowle-Evans' Memorial

Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Here are articles written or published in 1999. Contributed by Brenda Bowle-Evans

A shorter version of this article may have been published.

Is there anything dangerous up there?
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Golden Star?, National Newsletter?, 15 September 1999)

Intro

This guy comes up to me in the LZ one evening and says, “I am a visiting PG, is there anything dangerous up there?” Well............... I am floored. I have just about got unzipped from another of those 4 hour jaunts about the mountain, and the ground is still swaying beneath my feet. I mean ......You, a PG, are asking me (a HG) if there's anything dangerous?---you have got to be kidding! There are quite a few pilots there, but they are all swallowing their thoughts, waiting for my response. They are also in curious anticipation of hearing what I think is dangerous. Well now, let's see: if you have a blood transfusion you could get hep C; if you have sex on the ramp on a hot afternoon with a real nice stranger you could get trampled on by launching HGs, be the cause of multiple mid-air collisions from spectating flyers, get your picture on the front page of most any national daily newspaper, and subsequently get aids to boot; if you leave a camera or radio behind anywhere you will lose it; if you get your vehicle repaired by the wrong mechanic you will be much poorer and no further along the road; if you fly into a towering cu you will get sucked up, or into a violent rotor and you will get thrown down; if you are incredibly stupid you could nose dive into the river and drown, or get entangled in a power line and get electrocuted; since you are a PG, none of the PG things that would scare anyone else half to death don't count (they are normalities for you) and then again, some of these things are not really “up there”. Hmmm..........And then about six of us got it all at once - Anything dangerous up there? “YES - THE ROAD!!” I'm afraid our poor visitor did not really fully appreciate the unified cry. You see, at this point, the score for the year was Road 3, Flyers 0. That is 2 suburbans and one pick-up, all 4x4s, one of the suburbans brand new, and the other 2 also in tip top condition. Totalled. The pick-up was mine, and several weeks later I am still crowding the ditches as I round blind corners, praying and instantly ready to dive right into the ditch. My pick-up and one of the suburbans compressed each other head on quite suddenly one evening, and the other suburban simply omitted to negotiate the second half of the last switchback one afternoon. 'Fly' was the operative word that day. How we survive this HG/PG thing I will never really know, but we do. Everyone involved carried on the next day doing the things they normally do. These events have raised a number of questions pertaining to things like insurance, drivers, owners, licences, ICBC, out-of-province insurance, out-of-country drivers, payment to drivers, payment for rides up, and road status to name a few. Basically, think carefully as to where your liabilities may lie.

The Season

OK, now that I have got that off my chest, what about the season. What season? It seems I can count the proper good days on the fingers of one hand and have some left over. This has to be an exaggeration, but it does convey the idea. Spring was one weekend in early June, and summer was in August. September, at time of writing, has given us a day, but now is more like October. There is lots of fresh snow on the mountains, sudden, ripping thermals when the sun gets free, and howling winds aloft. True, some of the good days were really good, including that some PG records were set one day. Either this, or my memory has got all fuzzed up over the years. (I can hear the comments at least as far as Medicine Hat.)

Accidents

As usual, there were some, but nowhere near as horrendous as other years. To my knowledge, nothing worse than a few cuts and bruises, DTs, sail tears, although I believe one PG canopy was toast. There were 2 emergency deployments, both by novice PGs. Again, both walked away. Whatever else you do at Mt 7, please, ALWAYS fly with a reserve - they work !! I believe there were a few incidents I never heard any details about, that mostly involve PGs getting blown north in strong southerly flows. I gather a few of these got slammed in a bit hard at their landings in sometimes less than ideal locations. This IS becoming a regular here. So, know this: At Mt 7, there are, on several occasions, every year, winds of such a strength that HGs penetrate no problem, but PGs do not. Obviously it will depend to some extent on the exact canopy or wing - some single surface HGs will be slower than some high performance PGs, but on the whole, here, it is PGs that have seem to have the penetration problems. If you are a PG not very familiar with the site, talk to one who is before venturing out in strong winds, particularly from the south. Best of all on the accident topic, after lack of injuries, is that no one needed costly rescue.

The story I like best on this subject is this one. The road construction superintendent was going about his daily business one day when he notices a tree with a PG caught up in it. Next thing, along the road comes this guy who says he is also a PG, is from Sasketchewan or the likes, and that all his life he has wanted to cut down a tree, but has just never had the opportunity. The super finds this really novel, that someone should actually be excited about doing something to him as mundane and every day as falling a tree, that he has done almost on pennance for as long as he can remember. So, he hands our fella a power saw, and says, “Then it's your lucky day! Here is a saw, and there is an ideal tree just around the corner with a bonus - it has a PG in it !! ” Whether you want to be cut down by someone who has never felled a tree before is another matter.

The Contingency Fund

It is thriving. As of 08 September, it has $4400 in it. This means we could cover one rescue like we had last year and still be solvent. I am sure it is a matter of when, not if, it gets called on. With reference to some other comments I have seen on our fund, look at it this way. When something like this happens here, if you have contributed for the season, at that time, on that day, the fund, to its ability, will pay. With this set-up, rescue will be proceeded with without delay. Later on, after you have been taken care of and have settled out, if you have some means of repaying the fund - it will be to the benefit of one and all and will be appreciated.

Upper Evac Box

I have talked about this before. It now exists. A steel box very much like the one at the Lookout, except it is green and above ground, in a small clump of trees at the upper PG launch. It contains the basics of spine board, basket stretcher, straps, blankets, first aid kit, and medical oxygen. More items may be added over time. A cell phone with large gel cell battery is in place during mid-season. It was flown up by Alpine Helicopters during the XC meet week - this was witnessed by quite a crowd at the Lookout. Alpine Helicopters donated the time for this work. They looked at it as a combination of community project and search & rescue project. Many thanks are due to Alpine and the two resident pilots, Don McTighe and Dave Morgan. Thanks are also due to two Golden PGs, Troy Vandenbilche and Jerry Delyea, who actually built the box and dealt with its installation, and to Vandenbilt Auto Body for letting the boys fabricate the box in the shop. Other costs with this project - equipment and the box itself - were payed for from the Willi fund. There is a lock on the box - same as the one on the Lookout box. Your key fits both.

Willi's Peak

As a longer term project, this is going quite well. I got a very useful response to my 'Expression of Interest' from Geographical Names BC, with some very direct instructions as to what I should obtain to include with the full submission. Some items I know we have support for, while some might be a little more challenging. In the mean time, Roger Nelson of Map Town has produced maps with Willi's Peak marked right on it.

The Nicholson LZ

Status is unchanged - as good as ever.

The Monument

It is a large boulder, silica - very hard - from the 8 mile mine, about 2 refrigerator size, with a big flat face, the engraving to be mounted on the front face and a windsock pole attached behind. This boulder was physically hauled up and installed in place yesterday, 14 September.

The New Road

It is finished. The old road is no more up to the access road to the radio towers. The gunbarrel is history. My whole piece from the spring on “Trucks”, prepared before I had heard anything about the new road, is now no longer relevant. Don't get me wrong now - it is still a 3800 foot climb, and the last 2 kilometers are still unchanged - but it is in a different class. Speed is likely to be the biggest problem.

The Balance of the Old Road

As to the last 2 kilometers - it was regraded and the drainage reinstated yesterday. All told, the road has never been so good. The upper 2 kilometers to the upper parking lot are for another day. I inspected it yesterday, and it will need some attention before too much longer. Yes, yesterday was a busy day.

There will be bills from yesterday's operations, but there is a certain degree of flexibility built into the arrangements.

Ramp

There has been a suggestion to extend the most southerly leaf of the front ramp to meet the ground to the east (left as you look down). The concept is to eliminate what is sometimes dead space and a stalled left wing on launching there, while the right wing is flying and lifting. It makes sense to me, and the person who worked on the ramp extension before is receptive to taking on this little project. This may happen after the road is done, if the weather is still cooperative. If not, then it goes to next year.

What now?

Some of my friends are going to Arizona for a trip - sounds like a good plan. Much as I love skiing, it never seems time for winter to begin.

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden - 15 September 1999

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