Two families with children ranging from ages six to 18 spent a cold night on Grey Mountain after finding themselves lost in the back country Sunday afternoon.
The 10 skiers were located uninjured around midnight by Rossland Search and Rescue (SAR) and were in the process of being extricated from the back side of the mountain by an RCMP helicopter commissioned from Castlegar, by press time Monday.
“It’s one of those things that can happen,” said Graham Jones, director for Rossland’s SAR. “Getting into a difficult situation that is not anticipated is what we are here for,” he continued. “We are here to help them come back safe and ski another day.”
The skiers, all residents of Washington, found themselves disoriented around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon on the back of the mountain and decided to hunker down and wait for rescue, according to Jones.
“They knew darkness was approaching so they lit a fire and tried to stay warm which is the smart thing to do.”
Rossland SAR was alerted to the overdue skiers at 5:30 p.m. that evening after an initial investigation by the Trail detachment determined the skiers were indeed missing.
By 7 p.m. SAR was on the hill and after covering the perimeter of Grey when the rescue team located a number of tracks leading into the bush.
Nine responders followed that trail and eventually caught up to the group.
“Due to the lack of snow this year, the terrain is not very friendly and has rockery,” explained Jones.
“Instead of floundering through all the brush the families stayed in one spot,” he said, “They came for a day of skiing and unintentionally ended up away from the ski area.”
Rossland SAR members along with the families were being flown off the mountain by chopper Monday afternoon, four at a time.
“No one was injured and all were accounted for,” confirmed Cpl. Dave Johnson from the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment. “The process of shuttling out the groups is currently in progress and is expected to be completed today (Monday).”
A new chapter at Red Resort began when the chairlift on Grey Mountain opened for the first time Dec. 14, which expanded the area with access to over 1,000 acres of skiing.
Red Mountain Resort did not respond to inquiries by press time Monday.