Kyle Rast has been a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association for eight years and three years ago became a professional member after a snow slide down the fall line gave him a message to tell others. The Castle Mountain Resort employee who lives life on the edge, had a surreal moment five years ago while setting off a controlled slide on one of the runs called Gambler. Rast was on skis and after dropping a 12kg bomb to set off the slide, he proceeded to the designated safe zone.
“As I approached my safe spot, a very small pillow let go with just enough force to turn me backwards and send me sliding down a 40 deg. slope. I could not self arrest, was gaining speed and snow. I went through a set of trees, over a small rock band, then really gained speed and more snow, hit more trees and stumps before coming to a rest at the bottom of the slope,” said Rast.
Knocked unconscious after rolling and bouncing off the ground for over 600 metres, he was evacuated by STARS helicopter to Foothills hospital in critical condition.
“I was buried face up but head down about 1 metre. I had a boot out of the snow.” Rast says he was as close to death as you can come and still get back.
“I was 6’6″ full of testosterone and bullet proof (not so much). I had a small amount of experience and wanting to impress. I also had a really cool job Skiing and bombs are rad.”
For ten days doctors would not tell his wife or his mother whether he would still be there in the morning, but miraculously, he survived and after 15-days in the ICU and four days on the Trauma floor, he was released from the hospital.
Two months later his son was born. “Wow,” is all Rast could say as he reflected on what could have been.
He now had a real story to tell anyone thinking about going into the backcountry and how to weigh the risk versus reward of venturing into the unknown. Rast continues to tell his story in combination with the avalanche safety courses in the hopes of driving avalanche awareness to the public.
His course the AST1 is taught in partnership with the C.A.A and contains information on how to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid those really hazardous situations. They also learn how to make a good trip plan and learn companion rescue techniques with the ultimate goal is that the student realizes the degree of responsibility required when lives are on the line.
Rast also adds that while you can take all the safety precautions possible, it doesn’t account for every circumstance.
“If you travel in moderate or considerable avalanche hazard, 90 per cent of the time nothing will happen, it is that 10% that will get you. Most avalanche incidents occur when the hazard is rated moderate or considerable.”
“Basically I think people need to get educated and get out there.”
It was clear that Rast’s fearless spirit of jumping into the unknown was just as prevalent as it was when the adrenalin junky got caught in the avalanche five years ago.
“Lets face the fact that risk is fun, there are lots of ways to fullfil this need, and alot of way worse ways of doing it. I will promote healthy outdoor living over many other risky behaviours.”
The C.A.A. website http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/ offers many other safety courses, including AST 2, Avalanche Operations Level One, First Aid courses and rescue courses’. An education that Rast says makes a better decision maker.