Snow bikers have a lucky escape on Claque Mountain

Snow bikers have a lucky escape on Claque Mountain

Their experience highlights the importance of being properly prepared in the backcountry

Two Kitimat snow bikers learned the importance of being properly prepared in the backcountry after having to be rescued off Clague Mountain on February 8.

Kitimat Search and Rescue’s Kelly Marsh said the two men contacted the Kitimat Snowmobile Club when their snow bikes became stuck in a drainage basin about 5km from the beginning of the ski trail.

When the Club contacted Marsh he advised them to contact the RCMP immediately as all emergency situations are coordinated through the RCMP.

“We didn’t have a location for them, even though we knew which mountain they were on,” said Marsh.

Marsh contacted KSAR’s second search manager and the Avalanche Rescue team leader to conduct an avalanche risk analysis as the men were trapped in a drainage basin.

“The first thing we look at before rushing in is our team’s safety. We can’t go up there without an avalanche technician,” said Marsh. “The avalanche risk is quite high at the moment, especially above the alpine and treeline levels.”

He said the team remained in contact with the stranded snow bikers through text messages, establishing that there was no immediate risk as the men weren’t injured.

It was decided that the best and quickest option would be for the two men to make their way back to the trail to meet rescuers coming up the mountain.

“They weren’t too far from the trail system so they left their snow bikes there and made their way back to the trail wading through snow so deep it came up to their armpits.”

Two rescuers, a permanent KSAR member and a volunteer who was signed up before he was allowed to join the rescue, jumped on snowmobiles and made their way up the trail where they met the two men 15 minutes later.

The snow bikers were brought back down the mountain to the staging area in the Service Centre, none the worse for wear, which Marsh said was remarkable considering the temperature on the mountain had to have been below -10C.

“They were a little cold, but they were in good shape when the rescuers met them,” said Marsh.

RCMP Sgt. Graham Morgan said it is vital for people venturing into the mountains to leave pre-plans of their activities with someone they trust.

“People must be prepared to spend the night if something were to go wrong. This includes carrying extra dry clothing, GPS, headlamp, fire starting capabilities, a fully charged cell phone with auxiliary power source if possible, candles and inexpensive hand and feet warmers,” Morgan added.

“Skills such as building a snow cave would also be extremely helpful when in an emergency situation as depending on the situation, Search and Rescue may not be able to get to you immediately,” he said.

Kitimat Northern Sentinel