Nelson Search and Rescue was called out to its first rescue of the snow-season on Tuesday night.
Two 25-year-old men who just moved to town had decided to take their new snowmobiles out for a spin in the Six Mile area. They were about 30 kilometres (19 miles) into the back country around Crusader Cabin when their machines got stuck in the loose powdery snow.
The pair scratched a message in the snow saying they were heading back to the cabin, but became turned around and ended up trekking out towards Springer Creek on foot.
Chris Armstrong managed the call for Nelson Search and Rescue. His crew was called at nightfall, when one of the men’s girlfriends notified police that they hadn’t returned home.
“They were new to the sport, using high-powered machines and were way, way back in the backcountry without any avalanche skills,” Armstrong said. “The one thing they did right, from a safety prospective, is let somebody know where they were going and when they planned to be back.”
It took Search and Rescue volunteers most of the night to locate the abandoned snow mobiles. Usually they would be able to zip out on their UTV, but the snow was too unstable. Instead, rescuers had to ski out to the victims.
They finally found the men, cold and tired, around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. They’d only made it about 500 metres from their snowmobiles.
“They had tried to build a shelter overnight, but didn’t have any skills to do that,” Armstrong said, adding that they also struggled to get a fire going. “They had gas with them, but they were basically just throwing it on things and burning the gas off.”
Rescuers brought the men out of the bush to safety. Fortunately, they were unharmed.
This time of year, with loose, fresh powder and no base covering obstacles under the surface, it’s particularly easy to become stuck.
Armstrong would like to remind outdoor adventurers to make sure they adequate supplies and training to be able to spend a night outside anytime they head into the backcountry, be it on snowmobiles or skis.