News Flash: Excelsior Death Launches Inter-Agency Blame Game

La Satira News Service

The death of a lone mountaineer on the Excelsior Pass earlier this week left the many agencies that administer the pass bickering among each other over who should get the lion’s share of the blame.

“We had already published a Lowering Tempest Watch and a Raging Torrent Advisory,” said weather bureau spokesman Eric Schneestrum.  “We can’t force people to listen to the weather, much less act on our advisories.”  The spokesman argued that the Passes department should have closed the pass for the duration of the storm.

The Passes Department, for their part, also claimed to have fulfilled their obligations.  “We have one member of staff whose sole job it is to warn passersby to beware the pine tree’s withered branch and beware the awful avalanche,” said Karl Lawine, spokesman for the Passes Department.  “Our records indicate that he did his job.  But if some crazy kid wants to bear for a while ‘mid snow and ice a banner with a strange device, or anything else for that matter, there’s only so much we can do to stop them.  We’ve tried erecting barriers before, but inevitably people go around them.”

Authorities are still trying to identify the deceased, who by a faithful hound half-buried in the snow was found, still grasping with his hands of ice the banner with the strange device, “Excelsior.”  “We think maybe he was with a tour group.  In fact, judging from the banner, we think he was the tour leader but that the people he was leading abandoned him several villages ago.”

“Certainly we abandoned him,” said one tourist.  “We’d heard the warnings, but he insisted on going ever higher.  It’s a noble sentiment, but there are times when it’s carried to excess.  You might say in this case it wasn’t so much Excelsior as Excessior.”

Meanwhile, the persistent loss of life in the pass has spurred government studies for improving safety in the corridor. Proposals include widening the pass, providing well-stocked avalanche shelters at regular intervals, and removing the mountain altogether. Progress on the proposals has stalled, though, in the face of interdeparmental bickering and implementation costs that have proceeded to go ever higher.

Copyright 2013

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