South Columbia Search and Rescue volunteers provide emergency services to the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, and BC Coroners Service. The team’s base in located in Fruitvale. (Trail Times file photo)

Two skiers missing on Red Mountain, found

Kootenay SAR teams were on the mountain Jan. 1

Kootenay SAR (Search and Rescue) teams started the New Year with good cheer after finding two missing persons on Jan. 1 – and the best part, both lost skiers are back home and reported to be in good health.

“South Columbia SAR and all teams involved have had an incredible first day of 2020,” Mike Hudson, South Columbia SAR president, reported late Wednesday. “We had two searches today and both have been very successful and with great outcomes. It was an incredible effort by all involved.”

The first incident began Monday, and centered on 34-year old Mark Gayowski. The local man was reported missing at 5 p.m. on Dec. 30, when he did not return from skiing the backside of Red Mountain.

Hudson confirmed Gayowski was found in very good health on Jan. 1, and was “happy to see our teams.”

“Mark was airlifted out of the backcountry and brought to our location at Red Mountain where he went for medical care as a precaution,” Hudson said.

The second SAR call-out involved a 19-year old male reported missing from Red Mountain early Jan. 1.

Wednesday afternoon, Hudson reported the man was found by sled teams and had been evacuated to SAR base.

“It was an amazing response from both the East and West Kootenay teams,” Hudson said. “We had approximately 90 SAR members searching over three days through heavy snowfall conditions, cold, freezing rain and horrific and challenging conditions and terrain.”

Without the assistance from SAR teams in Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, Kaslo, Grand Forks, Kimberly and Cranbrook, the outcome may have been different, he added.

“And thanks to the fantastic work and help from Trail RCMP, Dam Helicopters and a huge thank you to Red Mountain, their staff, patrol members and all the fantastic restaurant staff,” Hudson said.

“They generously donated all the food for our searchers over the last three days. We are so very humbled by their gesture.”

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