Mounties warn backcountry enthusiasts to be prepared

Due to recent events, the Revelstoke RCMP are reminding backcountry enthusiasts to be prepared.

‘Those persons enjoying the great outdoors either by skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowbiking or even hiking, must be equipped with the appropriate safety equipment, i.e. transceivers, probes, shovels, as well as having the appropriate training with good knowledge of the terrain,” Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said in a statement released on Wednesday, January 25. “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.”

He advised anyone planning a backcountry excursion to check weather and avalanche conditions that can change rapidly and to let others know when and where they plan to go and when they plan to return.

The warning was issued after two separate incidents involving skiers went out of bounds at RMR on Tuesday, January 24.

“The first group, 5 people from Denmark, got separated from their group of 20 skiers and were reported as missing to the RCMP,” Grabinsky said. “They were not equipped to spend the night. Revelstoke SAR was deployed to search for these missing skiers. At approximately 11 pm a 911 call was received from the group indicating that they were able to hike back in bounds of RMR to a warming hut where they were eventually met by SAR. Fortunately there were no injuries.

“A second skier from Germany was reported stranded while having skied out of bounds and was observed by helicopter in an area referred to as the Greely Bowl. This skier was equipped with avalanche gear and water however unable to self-rescue. A helicopter was able to drop a radio to him and determine his coordinates. Revelstoke SAR skiers travelled at night to reach him, but were unable to get to him due to the challenging terrain. At first light on January 25, Revelstoke SAR was re-deployed with a helicopter and located the skier who was in good health.”

Grabinski said that in the past four weeks Revelstoke SAR has been activated on several occasions to deal with similar incidents for either skiers, snow boarders or snowmobilers stranded in the back country.

“Rescue missions such as these, especially in the current weather conditions; light snow, wind and temperatures below zero, place emergency personnel at risk. 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,” he said.