Forget about bears, take a map and compass, and make sure you know how to use them. Last night, about 10.30 pm, our search and rescue group (SAR) was called about two female skiers who had failed to return home after a day skiing in the West Arm Provincial Park off the Whitewater Ski Hill Road. A couple of teams went out last night, but failed to locate the missing skiers, so Doug and I went out early this morning with another two teams to continue the search effort.
The skiers were located by helicopter heading east (towards the north ridge of Mount Beattie) about 7. 30 am. They had spent the night in a snow-cave dug into a tree-well on the north side of Hummingbird Pass in the West Fork of 5 Mile Creek. and were in good condition owing to the mild, dry weather overnight, and the fact that they had enough equipment and skill to build a snow-cave and a fire.
A SAR team was dropped off near the lost skiers and they were escorted back to the trailhead. They had spent the night about one kilometre north of Hummingbird Pass, and, were, at most, one hour from the parking area. But, with no map and no compass, they had no way of knowing this.
It seems, the skiers thought that they were skiing a run locally known as Black Queen, which is actually the east facing descent off the mountain White Queen. However, based on where they were located and their description of their tour, I suspect they had actually skied a north facing run off White Queen, and had then contoured all along the White Queen-Beattie ridge to finally descend into the West Fork of 5 Mile Creek where they spent the night.
Many things are unclear about how their day progressed. One thing is clear, and that is, that, from the time they left the parking lot, they really had no idea where they were or where they were going. Under these circumstances, once you are lost, you are lost.
Towing The Radio Repeater Out