Snowboard Base Cliff Strike
This is the story of my 84th jump. It includes some things not relevant to the actual incident, but since Iím using this story for my logbook too I want to include them.
I apologize for the length of the story. You can skim just the first part to read about the accident, and then scroll down for the lessons. The middle part describes my experience on the wall itself, while waiting for a rescue. Itís a little dramatic, but Iím mostly including it here to show that having the courage or stupidity to jump from fixed objects does not guarantee any courage required to go through other ordeals as easily.
Here are the factsÖ
- February 2006, jumping on Sunday at approximately 3:30 PM
- The Canadian Rockies in British Columbia
- 550 foot cliff
- Snowboard BASE
- 42 inch vented pilotchute
- Vented canopy, Rockdragon 266
- Wearing a fullface mountainbiking helmet and full body armor
- Unstable deployment, opened facing the wall, hit it, and got stuck
- Spent the next 10 hours on a 2 by 2 foot ledge at -10 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit)
- Got rescued by search and rescue team at 2:00 AM
- No injuries
How It Started
This trip started on Saturday afternoon when I jumped into my car to drive the seven hours to northern British Columbia. There I would hook up with Scott and Dave to repeat the snowboard BASE jump I had successfully made a year earlier. We would jump on Sunday in the afternoon, and then Iíd drive home to be back for work on Monday.
On Sunday morning, while waiting for Dave to get into town, Scott and I tried jumping another local 300 foot skibase. Scott successfully made the jump, but I felt my snowboard couldnít get enough speed on the run-up to get sufficient clearance from the rock. So I bailed on that one and went home for some hot chocolate instead.
Early afternoon we all assembled in the parking lot of the local airport and got our gear on. We hopped into the helicopter which dropped us off at the top of a nearby mountain only minutes later. What followed was some great backcountry riding to get to the edge of the cliff. The snow wasnít great, but since I hadnít ridden my snowboard in a while it felt great anyway.
Once we got to the exit point, the three of us each opened up a can of a popular energy drink and fondly remembered the jump we did with Chris Muller at that exact spot close to a year ago; a perfect day with a perfect friend.
This day was going to be a little different.
We geared up and got closer to the exit point. What we had already suspected during the descent turned out to be true. The snow conditions werenít nearly as good as they had been last year. Right up to the exit point were several exposed rocks that required careful navigating. We tried covering them with snow but couldnít get enough hold. In the end we decided to leave them exposed so we could better see them.
Because of the poor snow quality, we had to exit from much closer to the exit point than last year. In hindsight we should have realized this would have a significant impact on our exit speed.
The backcountry snowboard ride down had really given my mindset a boost and I felt great. I offered to go first and minutes later I phoned to our friends in the landing area that I was on a twenty second countdown.
I started sliding and seconds later I hopped off. I immediately noticed I was going unstable. For the freestylers among us, imagine a slow turning backside Misty flip and youíll get an idea of how bad it was. I basically found myself in a slowly rotated frontflip combind with a spin.
Weíre not really sure what caused this. Theories range from hitting a little rock right on the exit-point, to catching an edge before exit, to just being a dumb fucker who canít snowboard.
What I do know is that I instantly realized things were bad and that I reached back for my pilotchute. When I pitched, Iím pretty sure that my head was lower than my feet and getting lower. I was also at a ninety degree angle to the cliff.
My canopy opened facing the wall, with me facing away from the wall being headlow. So my body needed to be uprighted and rotated, before I could even attempt to reach for risers. I distinctly remember there being a lot of time between feeling an opening shock and having the ability to look up and grab risers.
I reached up and pulled hard. Too late; looking down, here comes the rock, brace for impact, stick my snowboard outÖ
I slammed into the cliff face, still pulling on risers; bumped down a guestimated fifty feet and came to a sudden stop in my harness. My canopy was horizontally to the left of me, and the lines were hanging over an outcropping rock. Half my weight was hanging in my harness, the other half was on my snowboard standing on a fifty degree angle slope going vertical two meters lower.
First I leaned forward a little more so I could reach a hold and take some weight off my harness. I didnít know how stable the canopy was stuck up there and if it would hold my weight much longer.
I grabbed my cellphone and called my groundcrew to let them know I was okay. For about two seconds I considered trying to save my snowboard, but I quickly realized it would be stupid to put myself in harmís way just to save a snowboard. So I told my groundcrew I was about to drop my snowboard down the cliff, just to make sure they didnít think it was me that was falling.
After that I climbed out of my harness to a little ledge about seven feet higher. Iím not sure why I decided to climb out of it, rather than using my cutaway handle. At any rate, I now found myself on a little two by two feet ledge nested in a tiny alcove. I could dig my shoulders into it and get enough friction to remain stuck in it.
Stuck But Happy
At this point I called my groundcrew again, and got their voicemail. What follows is the transcript of that voicemailÖHey, how are you doing? Iíd really prefer talking to you instead of your voicemail, but eh, I figured this is kind of an interesting place to eh, give you a call and leave a message soÖ Ödo not erase this voicemail. Iíd like you to save it and somehow weíll have to record it into an MP3 cause this is going to be one funny fucking voicemail. Here I am, stuck on the fucking wall. Climbed up a little to a nice little easy ledge. Pretty safe here, got gloves, Iím warm. Iím not hurt at all. I think my helmet gave me a nice dent because I did see stars for a few seconds, soÖ uhm, let me get my gloves here. My canopy is hanging from the rock, about six or seven feet down. I think that one is fucked, Iíll have to let that one go. Oh. Itís turning a little Dwain Westonish I guess, but I just gotta say; hope you guys areÖ Oops, Iím getting a call. Thatís probably you, let me get that. OopsÖ
The phone call was from groundcrew. They let me know that local search and rescue (SAR) had been notified and that they were underway to assemble a rescue operation. They would call me back with more information.
It is worth pointing out that I was in very good spirits at this point. I felt very embarrassed about having hit a cliff and needing a rescue, but at the same time I was not hurt, in a warm and sunny spot, and I figured it was going to make for a good story.
Having eye-witnessed several backcountry rescue operations, I knew that rescue personnel takes the necessary time to set up a rescue. Not in a bad way; but in that they act professionally and plan carefully. So after getting that phone call I decided to just sit back, enjoy the sun and wait for the helicopter to appear.
Some time later I still hadnít received a call. So I called groundcrew again who mentioned they had tried calling me but I hadnít responded yet. This made me wonder if the ringer in my phone had maybe stopped working. I asked them to call me back, and indeed I got no signal.
So I called them back and told them I would call them every twenty minutes for a status update, since they had no way to reach me. At this point, groundcrew also alluded to potentially having to spend the night up there. Still in good spirits and aware of the local SAR operation I dismissed this comment as a prank.
Some time later a helicopter appeared. It would hover in front of the wall for a bit to try and find me, and then took off again. Twenty minutes later it appeared again, flew past, and back to the landing area. Later I found out that the helicopter had picked up Dave and Scott from the exit point.
I guess about twenty minutes later the helicopter appeared again, now with a longline with a backpack attached. They started hovering in front of the wall, and I got up as best as I could and started waving. After a few minutes they found me. Having a dark grey canopy didnít help my visibility, and they said later that even the bright yellow jacket I was wearing blended into the rock-face.
The longline wasnít long enough to make it if the helicopter would hover above the cliff. So the helicopter tried getting the backpack to me by swinging it. They came within three meters of me, but Iím still curious if I would have grabbed it if it had gotten closer. The last thing I wanted was getting knocked or pulled off the wall.
After a while the helicopter realized the attempts were futile and it took off into the distance. By now, the sun was starting to disappear behind the mountains and it was getting considerably more chilly.
I waited a little longer, and then I called groundcrew again. This time, the news wasnít as good as I hoped. Local SAR doesnít operate at night, and the backpack had actually contained some warm gear to make the night more bearable. They told me I was going to spend the night on the wall, and that the SAR would continue the operation at first light tomorrow morning, which would have been 7 AM. At that point, it was about 6 PM, two and a half hours after the cliff strike.
Stuck And Not Happy
I recalled that it had been -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) the night before, and suddenly things werenít so optimistic anymore. I distinctly remember telling the groundcrew: ďIf I have to spend the night up here, I will freeze to death.Ē and that was the turning point in the adventure.
Up to that point I had been embarrassed but happy to be alive still. Now suddenly I was facing a dangerous night. It wasnít just hypothermia I was worried about, but the size of the ledge meant that falling asleep would definitely cause a fall to certain death.
I think my groundcrew picked up on the change in my voice and suddenly the phone call turned a little more grim. We agreed I would check in only every hour from then on to save batteries, and that I would turn off the phone in between.
Alright, no more fun and games now. The seriousness of the situation had hit me hard and I sat down for a few minutes giving myself the: ďYouíre not going to die tonight! Youíre going to get through this.Ē speech.
I knew that canopies are great insulators, and my groundcrew had also advised me that I should try to retrieve it and use it as a sleeping bag. I was pretty sure my canopy was stuck too much, but given my predicament I had to try and get it. I carefully climbed back down to my harness (scary, given that there was a 200 foot drop about 6 feet below me). I managed to find a combination of foot and hand holds that give me enough stability so I could start tugging hard on the lines and risers.
I tried shaking and pulling from all angles for twenty minutes but nothing helped. In the end I had to give up. I cut away my harness now, climbed back to the ledge and sat down.
Okay, now what?
I did a quick inventory of the gear I had available. This is what I hadÖ
- Thin layer of full body thermal underwear
- Thin synthetic anti-sweat layer
- Medium thickness fleece layer
- Top half body armor
- Soft shell jacket with hood
- Hip and ass protection shorts
- Non insulating snowboard pants
- Long socks
- Thick and heavy snowboard boots
- Pair of gloves
- Snowboard goggles
- An insulating winter hat
- Gear bag
First I stretched my ski socks up as far as they could go and retied my snowboard boots; tightly at the top (keep warmth from escaping), loose around the foot (to insulate between skin and the outside world). I then stretched my snowboard pants over my boots as far down as I could.
I now carefully stood up, holding on to some holds, and unzipped my pants. I tucked in all lower layers as far as I could. I then tightened my pants as much as I could, put the body armor over top of it and tightened the velcro securely. I closed my jacket and tightened the elastics around my waist as tight as possible.
At this point I reached for my hat and accidentally bumped my helmet off. It bounced twice, then a long delay, and then a final bounce. This definitely reinforced the idea that falling asleep could mean falling off the cliff could mean never waking up again.
In hindsight I donít think I missed the helmet much anyway. I put on my hat, then the hood of my jacket, and then the goggles over my eyes. This left only a tiny sliver of my nose exposed into the cold. I then put on my gloves and sat down again.
This left my gearbag and container to play with. I stuck both feet into the gearbag and managed to pull it just over my knees. I then tightened the closing loop, effectively creating a mini sleeping bag for my lower legs. It reduced my grip on the ledge a little, but I think the gains in warmth were worth it. After that I draped my container over my upper legs, folding the top flap over my knees. I then tucked together and realized that was the best I was going to do.
I had some backcountry snowboarding experience to draw from and I knew that sitting and waiting was not a good strategy since it leads to cold and drowsiness. Instead, I got into a regular exercise pattern. I would rest for fifteen minutes and then do a number of exercises to generate some heat. Exercises included boxing moves, pull-ups on some holds above me, and some small in place hopping. I couldnít do much more because I lacked the space to do so.
This works relatively well although itís a fine balance. Exercise too much and not only do you start generating sweat, cooling you down, but youíll also burn energy faster. Not carrying any food with me, I realized energy was going to be scarce by the morning.
The next twenty minutes I spend trying to rig up an anchor using one of the steering lines and the yellow cutaway cables from my container. Unfortunately I couldnít find anything to tie around, or jam a knot in, and after twenty minutes my hands got sufficiently cold that I gave up. I would have to do without an anchor.
The Waiting Game
So now I had the best use of clothing I could, and I had found an exercise pattern I thought would work.
So I waitedÖ
ÖÖ.and waited some more.
All the while doing my exercises, hugging my legs, trying to remain my grip on the ledge, and staring at the stars and lights in the distance.
It was the following two hours that were the hardest on me. If youíre a BASE jumper, you know the elated feeling you get after a successful BASE jump. Imagine that feeling and take the exact inverse of it. Thatís how I felt, if not much worse. I really didnít know if my preparations were sufficient to fight off the cold and sleep. I didnít know if I had eaten enough in the morning to keep energetic through the night. And most of all, I wasnít sure what effect spending time on a tiny ledge in isolation was going to have on my mood and mental well being.
BASE didnít seem very funny anymore, and I certainly didnít feel very heroic anymore. I seriously began to second guess if maybe I regretted getting into BASE. To all BASE jumpers who have never been hurt: donít assume you grasp the full significance of the risk reward tradeoff this sport offers. Theories and philosophies donít mean jack shit when youíre facing unknowns.
That is not to say that I was in a predicament comparable to what other BASE jumpers have gone through. On the contrary; I hadnít broken a single bone in my body and was completely unharmed still. If anything I was being a coward for letting the cold, the altitude and the unknowns play games with my mind so much. Other people have gone through significantly more painful ordeals and actually showed some courage.
At this point I tried finding ways to track the time. My cellphone doesnít display time in analog mode, and I had it turned off most of the time anyway. I found a way to orient my head against the rock so that I could look in a straight line past another rock and aim at the stars. By tracking the relative movement I had some notion of time passing. Unfortunately I had forgotten that stars lower to the horizon describe a smaller arc, so my timing ended up being skewed.
Around this time I started the delaying game. I wanted to wait phoning my groundcrew as long as possible such that if I would ask them what time it was it would be closer to the morning already. When I finally gave in and decided to call them, I figured it was going to be around 9 or 10 PM, six hours after the strike. I called my groundcrew. Not being very happy about the situation I found myself in, the first thing I said was: ďSay happy things!Ē in the hope they could lift my spirits a little.
They said it was 11 PM, that the temperature wasnít going to drop below -9 Celsius (15 Fahrenheit) tonight, and most importantly that a night-equipped Canadian SAR team was flying in from some distance away with an E.T.A. for a rescue operation at 1 AM. Then my battery diedÖ
I was ecstatic! Not only was it later than I had dared hope, I also didnít have to spend the entire night on the wall. Furthermore, it wasnít going to be nearly as cold as the day before. This gave me a considerable amount of hope and warmth that get me going for the next thirty minutes.
Still maintaining my exercising pattern, I slowly drifted into pessimism again. I found it hard to belief it was actually 11 PM. (Later I found out that the time had been called out incorrectly by accident, and that it had indeed only been 9 PM at my last phone call.)
ďMaybe they just said it was 11 PM because I asked them to say happy things? Maybe the SAR rescue at 1 AM was bullshit as well then? Maybe they just said that to give me some hope momentum to get me through the night easier? It worked for a little while, so who knows?Ē
One thinks crazy thoughts when youíre up on a wall. I hoped they werenít kidding about the temperature though. -9 C (15 F) sounds a lot more bearable than -20 C (-4 F).
At any rate, there wasnít much I could do about anything so I continued my regular pattern and started to combine it with singing. I started of with some Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews Band, but I quickly drifted into improvizations of Miles Davis and other random noise. At one point I was humming the Airwolf tune hoping a helicopter would appear. I think I hit an alltime low when I caught myself singing: ďItís a small world after allÖĒ
The singing and rambling got so funny that I had to force myself to quit repeatedly to check that I still had control over it. I wondered if rescuers would come, hear me sing, and leave the Ďraging lunaticí up on the wall.
Some time later I heard a helicopter appear. This gave me yet again a significant warmth boost until the sound disappeared in the distance and I realized I had been listening to a passing train.
The most important boost in warmth and hope came from my friends down below though. Staring at the lights of the houses in the distance makes for a surreal experience. In a direct line they are less than a mile away; so close and yet so far away. Suddenly though I noticed one of the lights flickering though. I kept staring at it, and it grew and started flickering more. It was a bonfire in the landing area!
To know that there is somebody out there with you, enduring the cold and starting a bonfire, is incredible. I wonder what kept me warmer, my clothing and exercises, or the emotional impact of a bonfire in the distance.
Which brings me to my second biggest boost in warmth; the big pee operation. At some point during the night I had to pee real bad. Since pissing my pants was just going to get me cold, I was going to have to undo all layers, find a remarkably shrunken penis (hey, it was cold!), get it out, and then stand or hang in a position that would avoid me pissing onto myself.
I think the whole thing from getting up, getting it out, letting it out, zipping up again and sitting down, took the better part of thirty minutes. But the sheer relief made me forget the cold for at least the thirty minutes following that.
And then it was back to being cold again. At this point I was very confident at least two hours had past since my last phone call. The SAR guys would have been here already if the combination of phone call at 11 PM and rescue at 1 AM would have been true. Little did I know that it was actually just 11 PM at this point.
So the next two hours were spend in the unknown again. At one point my left upper leg stopped shivering and got comfortably warm. Warmth and comfort can be a sign of hypothermia, so this freaked me out a little bit. I forced myself to exercise more and managed to generate energy flow to get my legs back to being cold and shivery.
Much later I had pretty much given up on the promised night-time rescue operation. I figured it to be about 3:30 AM and started looking towards the east to see if a glimpse of light could be spotted above the horizon yet.
I certainly didnít feel great at this point, but I had been up on the wall for long enough to prove that the routine worked to fight the cold. Sleep was becoming a bigger concern. I felt occasional lapses towards a state of drowsiness, so I began exercising more, punching myself in the face, and singing even louder.
And then it happened.
I had already noticed a plane flying high above me, but I figured it was just a passing aircraft. After all, how could a plane be useful? They started circling though, which seemed a little odd. Moments later a big flash lit up the entire valley. They had dropped a flare which continued to burn for the next twenty minutes.
Whoa, I thought to myself; somebody is doing something and theyíre going all out on this one! Part of me was ecstatic and instantly I felt warm again. The other half of me felt even more embarrassed than I had been up to this point. Getting an actual plane to hover above you just to get my selfish sorry ass of a wall, itís not something one can be proud of. Strictly speaking I was insured for such events, but as somebody who considers self-reliance a virtue, requiring help to this extend is nothing but humbling.
Again I reminded myself that a single flare does not mean Iíll be off the wall in the next two minutes. So I just continued my routine alternating between fifteen minutes of shivering and singing and doing exercises for fifteen minutes.
Shortly after the first flare burned up another one was lit up. Twenty minutes after that a helicopter appeared in the distance. They had a big search light and used it to scan the wall. I stood up as best as I could, and used my harness to wave. A few minutes later they found me and kept the search light pointed at me.
I sat down again and waited. About twenty minutes later I noticed the longline with somebody attached to it. He slowly maneuvered his way towards me. I took the opportunity to put the container and gearbag behind me in the little alcove. I didnít want to take them with me and potentially complicate a rescue. Under heavy noise and wind from the helicopter the SAR technician put a band around me. He instructed me to keep my arms down and seconds later I was lifted away from the ledge towards the helicopter.
When we got in the helicopter, two hands grabbed me and immediately pulled me away from the door towards a chair. They instantly clipped me in seatbelts and started taking off my outer layers. As soon as the door was closed and my outer layers were off, I was moved to a bed with heated blankets and warm-packs. I was shivering heavily but confident that I wasnít hypothermic.
The SAR team took me to the hospital where I was forced to spend the night. I had low blood pressure (from lack of food and fluids apparently) but was otherwise doing okay.
In the morning I briefly talked to a doctor and then I was released. I called my friends who moments later came to pick me up to go grab some breakfast. I was happily surprised to see that another great friend had driven from three hours away through the snow to come spend the night at the bonfire in the landing area. Sheís incredible!
The Thank You
In fact, I must mention the whole group; the northern British Columbia and Alberta crew is an incredible group of BASE jumpers and friends. Their support, encouragement and help through this entire adventure are heart warming. We had breakfast with a group of about ten people, and food had never tasted this good. You guys rock!
Furthermore, I must call out efforts of the local Search and Rescue team, the Canadian Search and Rescue team, the local RCMP and Ambulance people and the local hospital. Everybody was extremely helpful and supportive, and nobody once uttered a negative or lecturing word on me.
In particular, the Canadian SAR teamís execution of the operation was impeccable. Their timeliness, professionalism, smoothness, and approach to the whole rescue was awe-inspiring and I am proud to live in a country that supports such forces.
So thatís it. Rereading the whole story I realize it sounds a little dramatic. In fact, it may easily be construed as a romantic experience in hindsight. It is scary how quickly after an ordeal the brain filters out the negative parts and leaves just a great story. I tried my best to get the facts across objectively, but feel as if I wrote about a great adventure.
Let there be no mistake about it; the whole thing sucked. The whole thing sucked beyond most things that have ever sucked before in my life. And even at that it didnít suck nearly as bad as what many other people go or have gone through. So if anything, I learned that Iím a whiny little bitch that strongly needs to reconsider his participation in the sport. Not necessarily because I didnít have the skill to avoid the cliff, but more because it makes one wonder if I would have the mental strength to go through more significant and more painful tests of endurance. It makes me wonder, and realize how lucky Iíve been in life up to this point.
What went wrong
- Underestimating the exit. I should have had more respect for the exposed rocks close to exit. Iím not sure if I actually hit any, but they certainly didnít make the exit smoother. Ultimately I went off unstable and that triggered the chain reaction that led to this adventure.
- Speed, or lack thereof. Last year the run up to the exit point started a lot higher, giving us significant forward speed and separation from the wall. This year, I slid with minimal amount of speed off the lip. With last yearís speed the wall would be 550 feet, but after about 250 feet the wall definitely starts coming forward (making it a lower jump if you would do it foot launched). I think that at deployment altitude I was lot closer to the wall than I was at the same altitude last year.
Things that saved my ass
- Tuned brake settings. I hit the wall with some amount of speed, but my legs could more than sufficiently absorb the impact. Well tuned deep brake settings helped me a lot. The ride after that first collision was significantly bumpier, but thatís where my protective gear helped me.
- Body armor and a fullface helmet. Just after getting stuck on the wall I saw a considerable amount of stars. Without a helmet, things could have been a lot worse.
- Pulling on risers. It was too late to turn it around, but at least it slowed down my collision speed somewhat.
- Doing a regular exercise pattern to stay warm and avoid falling asleep.
How much I emptied my luck bucket
- Maybe I could have turned the canopy around if the rock face had been smoother. The first collision with the cliff didnít knock me out and I was still trying to get off the thing. Unfortunately I got hung up. The part where I am incredibly lucky is that I got hung up in a place that had access to a ledge, and that my canopy and lines had enough structural strength to keep me from falling until I could reach that safety point. The whole strike could have ended up a lot worse if the canopy had collapsed, torn, or otherwise stopped working.
- The other big help during this was the fact I wasnít injured at all. Having had a few broken bones could have easily made it impossible for me to reach the ledge, not to mention limit my ability to do exercises and stay warm. Injuries also have a huge impact on the bodyís ability to stay warm, and the mindset to stay clear. I think the whole adventure would have ended up a lot worse even with something else simply as a broken arm or ankle.
- Stability, stability, stability. Your canopy can open onheading but if onheading means facing the rock, youíre still shit out of luck.
- Instability and being headlow can eat away large parts of your response time. You canít reach for risers until youíre actually uprighted again.
- Donít assume that one successful jump means the second one off that object is going to be equally successful. Be just as scared, and equally prepared.
- Donít assume that one successful correction of a 180 offheading (from a 300 foot solid object some weeks earlier) means you will get your next one right. Your BASE jumping is only as good as your last successful jump.
- Remember that doing a jump in the afternoon puts you significantly closer to darkness. If this jump had been done in the morning, perhaps the local SAR team could have retrieved me.
- Being close to a city doesnít stop you from being remote. By line of sight I may have been less than a mile from the nearest house, and yet I couldnít have been in a more distant place. Think about the things you bring on a BASE jump. Even on the local ones, bringing some basic survival gear can be extremely useful. In my case, I should have brought an insulating foil emergency blanket, a headlamp, a watch, a radio, and some small snacks for energy.
- Ski and snowboard BASE is hard. Do not underestimate it.
- Get a brightly colored canopy. It would have made it significantly easier for the helicopter to find me. Having stealth colors is overrated; bright pink and orange are much more useful.
- One snowboard
- One Rockdragon 266 vented canopy
- One Vertigo Warlock pin rig
- One fullface mountainbiking helmet
- One severely bruised ego
- A dayís worth of work
- Enquiries into my insurance coverage. I was covered up to this point, but my insurance company is reevaluating their commitments.
- A deeper understanding of myself and how I deal with situations like this.
- A heftier dose of respect for the dangers that come with BASE.
- An intense appreciation of the friends I have made through the sport.
- A feeling of pride, respect, humility, awe and intense gratitude for the local and Canadian SAR forces and their incredible work. Many thanks to the 442 squadron.
I have received a lot of comments on this story, through forum discussions, emails and private messages. I wrote a lengthy forum post with some of my thoughts and I decided to reprint it.It can be read here.