South Cariboo Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to a callout from RCMP to Windy Mountain on New Year’s Day to help look for three missing snowmobilers.
The men, two aged 55 and one aged 27, had left the day before from a home at Sulphurous Lake and got into trouble on the mountain when they ran into some terrain with deep snow and windfall trees that left them trapped, says SAR search manager James Seeley.
“They were unfamiliar with the area and got into some terrain they couldn’t get out of.”
The trio hunkered down by a fire and waited out the night on Dec. 31, he explains, and then one of them hiked to a high spot to get reception to send a text message home for help.
The RCMP called out SAR at about 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, which dispatched 13 members, six with snowmobiles and others performing roadblocks on Judson and 8200 roads and other search support activities.
With valuable assistance provided by about 16 members of the Interlakes Snowmobile Club, Seeley says three, six-member search teams on sleds were deployed along the locations on the mountain where the missing men were believed to have been travelling.
Factors that made the rescue effort much simpler were the trio left a basic trip plan with family members and were prepared with warm clothes, matches, chainsaws and some food and water, he explains.
“They did the smart thing; they just stayed put and made a fire. They were all prepared for what they did, they just got into some bad terrain.”
By 2 p.m. the three men were located unharmed and making preparations to spend another night on the mountain, Seeley says, adding it took about another two hours to get everyone safely off the mountain.
A combination of inexperience and unfamiliarity with the mountainous terrain and different conditions led to the sledder’s entrapment, he says, adding there is a lot more snow at the Windy Mountain and Wavey Lake areas on the Nehalliston Plateau than currently seen at lower elevations.