Backcountry skiers lost in blizzard found by SARs

Two lost backcountry skiers were found Friday morning at Red Mountain after spending the night heading back toward the resort in a blizzard.

Two lost backcountry skiers were found Friday morning at Red Mountain after spending the night heading back toward the resort in a blizzard.

Rossland Search and Rescue (SAR) activated a search Thursday night when the 46-year-old man and his 15-year-old son from Boston, MA, failed to return by an expected time of 4:30 p.m.

The two skiers, familiar with the area, followed an incorrect path when the weather closed in while they were on the back of Gray Mountain and wound up in one of the drainages leading to Esling Creek.

White out conditions capped Rossland’s search off until Friday morning when the South Columbia and Castlegar SAR units pitched in. Eight South Columbia members and, for the first time, a CARDA (Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association) assisted with the search.

“They knew where they were going, they’ve done it before so it wasn’t just like somebody just wandering off aimlessly,” explained Ron Medland, manager of South Columbia SAR. “They actually knew what they were doing but like so many times, the weather comes in and even if you know where you are, everything disappears.”

The teams came across fresh tracks and managed to locate the parched pair, who was otherwise in fine condition, at nearly 11 a.m. Friday.

“This is one of the good ones,” said Medland. “It was done early, everybody is fine – the subjects are well – and you’re not out two or three days looking for people.”

Search and rescue was also called out Monday last week at nearly midnight when police received a report of two snowshoers missing at Strawberry Pass, north of Rossland on Highway 3B, according to Trail RCMP Sgt. Rob Hawton.

The men, in their late 40s to early 50s, had planned to go out for a couple hours at around 6 p.m. but didn’t return. Rossland SAR located the pair just after 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Hawton congratulates the local SAR units in the Greater Trail region for a job well done.

“These people not only put in long hours of their own time during searches but many hours training as well,” he said in a news release.

“One can only imagine the potential consequences if it were not for the efforts of these volunteers.”