A series of searches for lost or missing skiers resulted in the RCMP issuing a warning for people going out of bounds at Revelstoke Mountain Resort to be prepared.
Revelstoke Search & Rescue (SAR) was called out twice on Tuesday, Jan. 24, to look for skiers that got lost out of bounds at the ski resort.
The first call was to look for five people from Denmark who got separated from a larger group of 20 in the Greely area and were reported as missing to the RCMP.
“They were not equipped to spend the night,” wrote Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky in a news release.
SAR was deployed to look for the missing party, but at 11 p.m., a call came into the RCMP saying the group was able to hike back to the resort to a warming hut, where they were met by SAR.
The second incident involved a skier from Germany who got stuck while skiing out of bounds near Greeley Bowl. A radio was dropped to him from a helicopter and SAR attempted to ski down to him at night, but were unable to due to the challenging terrain.
They returned via helicopter on Wednesday morning at first light and were able to rescue the skier, who was in good health.
“He was one kilometre up the drainage from the water treatment plant,” said Andrew Inkster, a manager with SAR.
On Wednesday morning, the RCMP issued an advisory for backcountry enthusiasts to be prepared.
“Those persons enjoying the great outdoors either by skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snow-biking or even hiking, must be equipped with the appropriate safety equipment – transceivers, probes, shovels – as well as having the appropriate training with good knowledge of the terrain,” wrote Grabinsky. “Search and Rescue and the RCMP cannot stress enough the importance of obeying advisory warning signs and ski area boundary markers. If you are not prepared, the reality is you could become lost, seriously injured or die.”
According to reports posted by Emergency Management BC, there has been two other call outs to rescue missing or lost skiers out of bounds at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, both on Jan. 5.
“Rescue missions such as these, especially in the current weather conditions of light snow, wind and temperatures below zero place emergency personnel at risk,” wrote Grabinsky. “Please formulate a plan, tell others where you are going and when you expect to return. Be prepared with your equipment, travel in groups and be prepared to spend the night.”
The Montana Creek drainage is located below the resort’s cat skiing terrain and features a very challenging mix of tight trees, cliffs and creek beds. Stories of skiers having to be rescued from there were common until a traverse was put in to send riders back to the resort three years ago. While skiers and snowboarders still get lost there, those reports are less common.
The area below Greely Bowl is also a popular backcountry destination, but it requires a long hike out to get back in bounds. In 2013, a German man died in an avalanche while skiing out of bounds near Greely Bowl.
Inkster said the incidents are a result of people chasing powder and following tracks without knowing where they’re going.
“It’s people who don’t know what’s going on,” said. “They don’t realize the tracks are from people prepared to skin back into the resort.”