Three snowboarders were rescued Friday morning after spending a cold night in the backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort.
“They apparently went out of bounds and became lost,” said Cpl. Derek Pitt of the Nelson RCMP.
Kirk Jensen, general manager at Whitewater, said the three men – all in their early 30s – were found safe late Friday morning by a helicopter chartered by Nelson Search and Rescue.
“They were a little wet, cold and hungry, but otherwise apparently OK,” said Jensen, who said the trio were first reported missing late Thursday afternoon. An RCMP press release issued Friday afternoon stated the three men were not hurt.
‘They were part of a group of five boarders up on the upper Powder Keg area at about 3 p.m.,” said Jensen, saying that two of the boarders came down through resort runs while the other three apparently became disoriented and ventured into an out of bounds area.
“When they hadn’t returned by 4 p.m., we had our ski patrol do a sweep of our resort,” said Jensen, adding that was completed by about 5 p.m.
Nelson RCMP and Nelson Search and Rescue were then called and a ground and air search began in the backcountry area near where the boarders were last seen.
The search was suspended due to darkness Thursday evening and then resumed at first light Friday, said Jensen, adding the search was hampered initially by wind and blowing snow. Finally, by late morning, the weather cleared enough for searchers to spot the three men at the bottom of the Clearwater Creek drainage area. All three were removed from the area a short time later.
“It turns out they had become disoriented after the other two boarders left and ended up going into the drainage area, away from the resort,” said Jensen, adding that none of the boarders were properly equipped for backcountry activity.
Two of the boarders were from New Zealand and the third was from Alberta.
The rescue did not affect ski operations at Whitewater.