Three missing skiers were located this morning in good condition in the Erie Creek area.
According to RCMP Sgt. Monty Taylor, a woman dropped her boyfriend and two his friends off on the Bombi summit between Salmo and Castlegar on Sunday. The three, in their mid-20s, arranged to ski and snowboard for five days in the backcountry, overnighting in cabins along their pre-planned route. The men skied in the backcountry before but this was their first over night expedition.
Each night the three signaled with their spot beacon that they were okay and reached the cabins. However, on Wednesday afternoon an emergency distress signal was received and coordinates identified they were off their planned route.
South Columbia, Nelson, and Castlegar search and rescue began looking for them.
“We responded with snowmobile and UTV personnel and continued search operations until 1:30 a.m.,” said Mike Hudson with South Columbia Search and Rescue. “Conditions were rapidly deteriorating and it became hard to for our snow machines to continue on.”
At 8 a.m. this morning the search resumed with skiers, sledders, UTV operations, as well as a helicopter. Around 10:20 a.m. the men were located in good condition.
During their trip they had some equipment failure and with the poor weather became disoriented and lost.
“The big key factors to the success of this rescue was that all three subjects were well prepared, with lots of food, water, and shelter,” Hudson said, “The other big factor is their pre-plan. They had a detailed route, exit points, timelines and periodic check on points. This kind of pre-planning and preparedness is key for us to find people quickly and safely.”
Hudson said in all almost 30 volunteers looked for the skiers over 18 hours.