Each year mountain rescue professionals from all over the world gather to discuss the latest in best practices, equipment, disturbing trends and new ideas at the International Commission of Alpine Rescue (ICAR). The congress is also a platform for presenting research and for setting international standards. The CSGA (Canadian Ski Guide Association) – of which I am President – has been an active participant at ICAR for more than a decade. This year's congress was held in Are, Sweden, with the theme of Safety and Prevention in the Mountains.

In our continual efforts to sustain the safest backcountry skiing experience possible, the CSGA sent a team of delegates to ICAR this past month. Our entourage included myself as avalanche commission and delegate, Mike Wiegele as terrestrial commission, Dr. Dave Watson as medical commission, Andy Aufschnaiter as an exhibitor and Michelle Wiegele and Charlie Guinn as observers.

At ICAR: Dr.Dave, Bob Sayer (testing out new harness techniques), and Mike Wiegele

At ICAR: Dr Dave, Bob Sayer (testing out new safety harness techniques), and Mike Wiegele

We feel it is very important for our industry to be involved at the highest level in these types of organizations. Both Mike and myself were presenters at this congress, presenting our 5 Step Avalanche Forecasting Procedures and the value of a well written and practiced Rescue Plan. In an ever-changing world of technology, equipment and research, being at the cutting edge of safety is pivotal in maintaining the highest standards in safety.

Mike Wiegele presenting the 5 Step Forecast

The town of Are was a wonderful host to the congress. Unlike British Columbia, where the mountains all run together in endless confusion, Are is one massive mountain that rises up out of the planes. The ski resort has endless trams, trains and chairlifts. Although there was not yet enough snow to ski, it sure looked good.

Before the team headed to Are, we stopped off in Stockholm to host a reception at the Hestra flagship store. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new people on our travels. It was also pretty cool to check out the newest line of Hestra gloves.

At the Stockholm Hestra Store

Overall, the trip was fantastic. The discussions on staying safe in the hills were interesting and informative. I look forward to catching up with the mountain regions of the world next year in the High Tatress Mountains of Southern Poland. Until then, stay safe and have fun! ~ Bob Sayer