Missing Skiers lucky to be alive

  • Feb. 8, 2011 6:00 p.m.

After spending two nights in Canyon Creek, directly behind Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR), two males from Vancouver Island were found alive on Monday, January 31st. According to Golden RCMP, the men dipped out-of-bounds to do some backcountry skiing and snowboarding. The only problem was that they were unprepared and didn’t know where they were going.

“The men were not prepared at all to be heading into the backcountry,” Sgt. Troy Durand of the Golden RCMP said.

Once the men realized the trouble they were in, one man, the skier in the party, decided to split from his snowboarding partner, in an attempt to find help; they separated at approximately 5:30pm on Saturday night.

“The skier was faster than the other man, and thought he could find a way out of the canyon. He could move a lot faster than the man in snowboard boots,” Sgt. Durand added.

But, a way out was almost impossible and the moon rose, bringing on the first night; frigid temperatures were well below seasonal.

As the second day (Sunday) passed, a concerned friend of the pair finally decided to contact Golden RCMP. The RCMP immediately contacted KHMR and a thorough inbounds perimeter search was conducted; nothing was found. It was then time to call in the Golden & District Search & Rescue team. But, due to nightfall, a full air search was put off until Monday morning, resulting in yet another night alone in the backcountry for the two men.

It didn’t take long for Search & Rescue to find tracks leading into Canyon Creek first thing Monday morning.

“Everything happened really quickly. We found tracks leading back into Canyon Creek within the first 10 minutes in the helicopter. We followed those tracks and located the first man all within half an hour,” Search & Rescue Manager, Kyle Hale said.

The tricky part was that the man was in a dense treed-in area when located, meaning that the helicopter could not land. This resulted in the helicopter returning to the hanger in order to prepare the helicopter for a long line rescue.

“Once the helicopter was ready, it didn’t take long for us to get the first guy out safely. Once we did, he was able to lead us to the other guy who was still lost. We found him in no time. We were able to land the helicopter for the second rescue, making it much easier,” Hale explained.

Once removed from the backcountry, the two men were rushed to the Golden & District Hospital. Besides obvious frostbite and hypothermia, the men were in pretty good shape.

“All things considered, the guys were looking pretty good after being rescued,” Hale said of their condition.

After spending two nights in the dark, cold backcountry, the pair from Vancouver Island are truly lucky to be alive.

“We were happy to find the men when we did. They may not have made it through another night out there,” Hale concluded.

Local RCMP is currently investigating the incident. No charges have been laid.