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I’m tiring of stupidity. I’m tired of fighting the same battles over and over again. I’m tired of the government legislating common sense in the absence of common sense.

This past weekend’s tragedy in Revelstoke, British Columbia, is the last straw. It could be argued this tragic accident was not an accident at all. It was an unavoidable consequence of actions taken by irresponsible people. Sadly their actions cost innocent lives.

It’s time for everyone in the sport of snowmobiling to get serious about common sense safety and I mean everyone – not just the flatland trail riders who have cleaned up their act by beating down impaired operation and enforcing helmet use across North America.

It’s time now for those who ride vertical to think safety and heed warnings. This isn’t the Wild West. Mountain riders are not gunfighters. Risks must be reduced and avoided whenever possible, not embraced and romanticized.

The tragic avalanche that ensued as a result of riders highmarking in a location repeatedly warned as being highly unsafe and ready to slide leaves me almost speechless. I said, almost.

The fact some 200 snowmobilers positioned themselves in the way of a potential slide seems suspect. However, the fact riders who were highmarking with these people, casually enjoying lunch below them in harm’s way, is beyond belief.

Here’s what bugs me most: As snowmobile enthusiasts, everything we do rises and falls on the tide of every other snowmobiler’s behavior. I like to think we’re winning this battle and raising the threshold with impaired riding awareness and the resultant reduction in impaired fatalities. We won the helmet battle years ago. I really do believe our collective efforts toward safety have gained ground the past few years.

Then the media hoards latch onto this incredibly preventable, ridiculous situation that cost two people their lives. Our reputation as a family oriented, safe, motorized recreation took a huge hit this week.

The Revelstoke disaster is an indefensible situation. No one in the enthusiast press can stand up and defend what happened. This was born out of an incredible disregard for common sense and a complete absence of clear thinking.

What’s next? As I watched national news coverage of the situation in BC I heard the Solicitor General commenting that lawmakers in BC have already been looking at ways to legislate backcountry mountain riding. Great.

Random, infrequent but tragic events like this past weekend’s avalanche will serve to empower the government to restrict our sport. The biggest problem is this: The government will get broad based support for legislative intervention as a result of the careless nature of the Revelstoke incident.

The risks taken by rescue teams, not to mention the huge cost to respond to this mess will only empower the government to stick its nose further into our sport. The sad part is that in this case, it’s hard to disagree with the politicians.

At this point in time I almost think the government needs to legislate this behavior. I said almost. This has got to be the last straw, the final act of irresponsibility, the last time mountain riders do something this careless, this foolish.

If those who love to ride vertical don’t soon get into the mainstream on issues of safety and responsibility, they will lose access, lose the mountains and lose any vestige of credibility and respect.

Don’t think that can happen? It can and it will.

Mark Lester
Mark Lester
Mark Lester is Co-Publisher of SUPERTRAX Magazine and a regular Host on SNOWTRAX TV, which can be seen on Sportsman Channel across America and in Canada on OLN, Sportsman Channel Canada, Wild TV and REV TV and globally on our YouTube channel.
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