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Farkas fundraising climbs suspended over weather, avalanche risks

Farkas will re-evaluate the conditions and make necessary changes come Monday, he said.

There was always a chance that weather conditions would have to be factored into Jeromy Farkas’s mountain climbs for the Alex Community Health Centre.

That weather, coupled with ongoing avalanche risk in some areas has forced a suspension of his climbs for the next couple of days. Farkas began his 25 climbs in 25 days on Jan. 1, with the hope of raising $25,000 for The Alex.

He doesn’t see it as a failure or a setback through. It’s about safety and setting an example for making safe outdoor decisions, Farkas said.

“I think it’s just part of the nature of things,” he said Friday.

“When you’re out in nature, it’s nature who is supreme and dominant and you gotta respect the mountain.”

Adjustments to the campaign were built in; injuries, sickness, weather or avalanche risk are factors in making that decision, Farkas said.

He said the current conditions, coming off the deep freeze over the Christmas holidays and some of the recent freeze and thaw in the mountain areas, raised concerns.

Avalanche Canada issued a special public warning two weeks ago for the BC Interior and the Alberta Rockies National Parks. They said a prolonged cold and dry start to winter created persistent weak layers in the snowpack. Warming temperatures would destabilize that snowpack.

“The snowpack is currently in a precarious state,” said Simon Horton, senior forecaster for Avalanche Canada, on Dec. 28. The alert extended to Jan. 2

“While avalanche danger ratings may start to decrease as the weather improves, there will still be a chance of triggering a large avalanche.”

They advise anyone thinking of heading out to check the avalanche forecast at avalanche.ca. The current forecast (screenshot below) as of Friday showed dangerous avalanche conditions west of Calgary.

The areas marked 3 or 4 means dangerous avalanche conditions and likely that humans would trigger avalanches. FROM AVALANCHE.CA

Change of plans

Farkas said he’ll take the weekend to re-evaluate the weather before charting what’s next.

But the people he’s talked to say it’s a one-in-20-year event.

“Some of the avalanche folks have just described it as ‘spooky,’” he said.

“I knew that it was the right call. Even on a personal level, like my days of throwing myself into ridiculous situations are over and I’d rather people think less of me than be the reason that someone out there goes out unprepared.”

It’s likely, he said, that it would mean different mountains with different terrain will be on the 25-day menu.  That’s one of the good fortunes of being in Calgary is that there are several different objectives nearby, each with different terrain.

“It just means that I’m going to have to do stuff I’ve done plenty of times before, it’s not going to be as exciting… I’d guess you’d count it as a readjustment in the timeline.”

After 12 peaks completed, Farkas said they’re already halfway to their goal of $25,000. You can donate here.