September 6, 2006

C.U. Publishes Gorge Safety Info Pamphlet

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Ask a couple of freshmen about the most memorable event during Orientation week, and you might get “gorge jumping” as their enthusiastic answer. Gorge jumping, diving and swimming in the gorges are some of the activities that many remember fondly when looking back at their Ithaca days and has even been listed in The Sun as one of the things every Cornell student should do before they graduate.
But few consider that engaging in these pursuits during the dwindling summer days before classes start can be illegal and dangerous, even fatal.
Just this past August, Navin Parthasarathy, a graduate student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who was attending a seminar at Cornell, drowned in the Fall Creek Gorge, located on the University’s campus, according to Ithaca City Police Lieutenant Tim Williams.
Spurred by this accidental death, and in an effort to educate the Cornell community about the gorges, the University has recently begun to issue informational pamphlets entitled “The Gorges of Cornell — Path and Safety Information.”
The pamphlets stress that “the gorges are not amusement parks … people have been injured and killed through the misuse of these natural wonders, but [that] all of these incidents could have been avoided.”
The brochure also warns of falling rocks and fast moving water in the gorges. For example, there can be strong undertows and currents in gorge waters, especially after heavy rains, which can hamper rescue and recovery efforts.
While specific trails through which visitors can walk through have been outlined by the Cornell Plantations, swimming and diving in the gorges is strongly discouraged.
“Ithaca’s gorges offer the community exceptionally beautiful natural areas and easily accessed recreational opportunities but also come with inherent dangers,” Tommy Bruce, vice president for University communications stated in the Ithaca Journal.
The brochures are designed to make Cornell community aware of the dangers associated with the gorges and to help them enjoy the scenic paths safely.
The brochures can be found at the Information and Referral Center at Day Hall and the International Students and Scholars Office and will also be available through the Cornell University Police Department.