Overdue skier, snowboarder find their way out of backcountry

Nelson Search and Rescue volunteers looked for the missing party on Saturday night. They found their way out Sunday morning.

A backcountry skier-snowboarder pair spent a cold night outdoors after becoming lost in the Evening Ridge area on Saturday.

Nelson Search and Rescue volunteers came up to look for the duo after dark, when the 28-year-old male and 22-year-old female were reported overdue. Their vehicle was still parked in the Hummingbird Pass parking lot off Whitewater Road.

Two SAR members skied out with lights and whistles in hope the lost party would come towards the sound, but due to the high avalanche risk they were advised to stay below the tree line.

“Unfortunately, the sound doesn’t travel very far among the trees,” Nelson Search and Rescue’s Murray Springman explained.

A rescue vehicle also drove up and down the road with lights and sirens all night.

At daybreak, more SAR volunteers were about to join the search when the skier and snowboarder walked out on their own around 6:30 a.m.

“They were cold, but they were fine,” Springman said. “When they realized that they weren’t coming out where they wanted to, they turned around and followed their tracks out.”

Saturday night was -20 C. The pair had a shovel with them to dig pits in the snow, where they could escape the cold wind when they needed a rest.

“They’d hunker down for awhile [in a pit] and then come back out and ski awhile, until they were able to make their way out,” Springman said.

On the same night as the skier and snowboarder were missing, SAR was also called about an overdue snowmobiler. The individual also found their own way out of the backcountry on foot.

Springman said it’s been a relatively quiet winter for Nelson Search and Rescue because snow conditions haven’t been great. Still, for the people who do head into the backcountry, there’s good reason to be concerned if they don’t make it out on schedule.

“Even though there’s not much snow up there, there’s several layers and it’s quite unstable,” he said.

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