A video surfaced on Facebook that showed two hikers throwing rocks from the hiking trail on EEOR above Canmore.
The video was posted to the Bow Valley Climbing Crew page on Facebook. Within minutes, it generated a number of responses.
Some comments called for the two hikers to be punished for their actions, most comments called for better education for hikers.
One of the people who commented noted that they’d recently been on a 450-metre rock climb called EEOR’s Tail 5.8 when two similar sized rocks whizzed past. EEOR’s Tail is located in the area where the hikers were throwing the rocks.
The rocks would have certainly killed anyone they hit. The video has been deleted and one of the hikers has reached out to apologize.
“I was horrified, so when I phoned the police I told them what time I was on the mountain and what time the rocks came down,” said one of the hikers.
“That was my biggest fear; I thought that maybe I had accidentally killed somebody.” The hiker contacted the RCMP and reported the time and day they threw the rocks.
“I didn’t know there were climbing trails down there at all, we are very uneducated about the mountain and very uneducated about hiking.”
In 2007, a hiker threw a rock from a cliff in Colorado and killed someone below. Read about it here.
Rockfall is natural and climbers deal with it every day, they even cause it and have a word for it: trundle.
Climbers trundle rocks all of the time, mostly when they’re new-routing. In the alpine, where climbers assume no one is below them, they’ll trundle big stones (watch below).
In alpine settings, climbers are hit with small rocks that are knocked off from the rope dragging over low-angled terrain. Even on popular multi-pitch rock routes, rockfall is something climbers deal with with some rockfall is the result of seasonal freeze/thaw cycles.
Climbers should be aware of this and take precautions to avoid injury, such as wearing helmets, avoiding alpine routes on hot days and staying away from notoriously loose and chossy lines.
Trundling became such a problem in Squamish, that guidebook author Kevin McLane wrote in a story for Gripped titled Beware the Trundler, “Stonefall is not just for the alpine, it’s right here in Squamish. Many people now have war stories of close misses and diving for shelter. Some new routes in progress have needed only one or two volleys of rock, but others have seen periods of sustained rockfall over many months.
“Efforts to post warning signs and to work at quiet times invariably fall short of what a non-climbing authority would deem as acceptable for a busy area.” Continue to read the story here.
Watch a trundle from Birds of Prey in Squamish:
Parks Must Do Better
Uneducated Hikers are going to lob sticks and stones from the tops of mountains unless they’re told not to.
Education is the best way to let hikers know that throwing rocks from the tops of mountains is not allowed.
Some places in the Canadian Rockies have signage, popular trails such as Tunnel Mountain and Ha Ling.
But there are countless other trails with no signs letting hikers know that throwing a rock could kill someone. Two places where climbers encounter rockfall on a near regular basis are EEOR and Yamnuska.
One of the hikers from the EEOR incident felt so bad, they offered to help fund or create signs for the EEOR trail.
The responsibility of signage shouldn’t be on a new hiker, it should be with the groups, whether it’s Parks Canada, a provincial park or an access society.
Update on June 26: Parks have installed signs.