Avalanche! : A Fracture in the Snow, a Fracture to Business.
* In response to the ethical dilemma posed at: http://www.globalethics.org/dilemmas/Amazing-Run-or-Avalanche/26/
Every day, we are faced with decisions that need to be satisfied. However, the way we make these decisions involves a more complex understanding of the situation than simply answering “yes” or “no”. Mike, a guide at Ultimate Ski Expeditions, Inc. is no different when it comes to his decision at hand. A simple “yes” or “no” could mean death, not only for the participants and Mike himself, but also for the company he works for.
Before this analysis begins, I ask that you take a quick look at an avalanche that was caused by a skier. As it hurdles down the mountain I ask that you imagine what it would feel like to be that skier, and the power of Mother Nature behind your back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBvNpRFN8Ak
THE COMPANY AT STAKE
Ultimate Ski Expeditions, Inc. is one of many heli-skiing companies that provide once in a lifetime opportunities for skiers and snowboarders at any level, but mainly at the expert level to push their potential and have the most amazing run of their lives. The slopes usually skied while heli-skiing are untouched, meaning fresh tracks and an unlimited amount of powder to enjoy. Wikipedia describes heli-skiing as, “off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter, not a ski lift. Heli-skiing is essentially about skiing in a natural - albeit highly selected – environment without the effort or gear compromise required for hiking into these areas as in ski touring or ski mountaineering.” (Wikipedia.com) Ultimate Ski Expeditions, Inc., along with all other heli-skiing companies, must be trained in avalanche danger and know how to test snowpack conditions in order to get an accurate read to the risk of a potential avalanche.
THE DILEMMA AND CONFLICT OF VALUES
“To ski or not to ski, that is the question…”
Mike is a field guide at Ultimate Ski Expeditions, Inc. and since he started working there, he has gained a solid relationship with his boss Charlie, respect and loyalty both being strong values each of the two men holds for one another. Lately, business for the company has been slow due to a spell of bad weather. Finally, weather conditions are looking favorable for a good heli-skiing adventure. Being trained in all aspects of skiing, Mike carries equipment specified to test the snowpack and determine if there is a possibility of an avalanche. This particular morning, Mike performed his routine inspections of the snow twice and comes to the conclusion that due to the recent blizzards and accumulation of snow that no one had touched yet, skiing this slope would be a gambling with an avalanche. This circumstance seems to happen quite often, as over one third of all avalanche victims between 1995-2004 were skiers or snowboarders (see Figure 1). Knowing that this specific adventure could determine the fate of the company because of the lack of business, Mike’s boss Charlie is also taking a gamble. He certainly wants this expedition to occur, as this would help keep his company afloat. Mike feels his boss breathing on his shoulder anxiously and awaiting the go-ahead. Mike does not want to let his boss down but also does not want to put other skiers in the risk of an avalanche. In short, Mike needs to decide whether or not to chance the conditions and ski the slope or pull back and wait for conditions to be more favorable. The value proposition of the company is to be as friendly and as
welcoming as possible to help keep healthy relationships with their customers in order to build a good clientele base. Friendship and loyalty are the values in which the Ultimate Ski Expeditions, Inc. has at stake if they mishandle the situation. Mike also shares these values with his boss Charlie, which too, could be lost if he chooses the wrong words or judges the dilemma wrongly. The...
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