Revelstoke RCMP are issuing a backcountry safety warning after a busy December in which Revelstoke Search & Rescue was deployed to find and rescue 18 lost skiers, sledders and snowboarders.
Revelstoke RCMP spokesperson Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said seven more people have been “located and rescued” in the first two days of 2014, bringing the total to 25 in just over a month.
“With the great snow conditions for skiing and sledding that Revelstoke has, the area has been exceptionally busy,” Grabinsky said.
In a Jan. 2 media release, Grabinsky appealed for backcountry users to take precautions, saying Revelstoke SAR members need a break. “They would like to not have to go out there every night,” he said. “It’s time for some [volunteers] to get back to work.”
He said the majority of those requiring rescue were sledders riding on Boulder Mountain, Frisby Ridge and Sale Mountain. There were a total of 18 sledder rescues.
Seven of those rescued were skiers and snowboarders who got lost while riding in out-of-bounds areas next to Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Grabinsky said.
None were backcountry skiers or snowboarders, Grabinsky said.
Inexperience, lack of preparedness and lack of local knowledge were the key factors in the incidents. Only two of the rescues involved an injured person requiring rescue; the rest were rescues of lost and stuck people.
Grabinsky said some incidents involved an inexperienced sledder getting separated from the group. For example, the lost sledder is able to tell their location using a GPS device, but does not know where to go from there.
Grabinsky said all of the sledders who were rescued were not from the Revelstoke area. Some of those lost in the slackcountry were seasonal Revelstoke residents, but none are full-time residents.
“It’s all people from out of town,” Grabinsky said. “[It’s] that one guy who doesn’t have the kit, doesn’t have the knowledge.”
Others simply get stuck in the snow: “There’s a few sleds out there right now,” Grabinsky said, noting the rider was rescued but the snowmobile was left behind.
RCMP advise backcountry users to take basic precautions:
— use avalanche equipment like a beacon, probe and shovel
— carry survival gear like matches, food, water and shelter
— travel with others, use a map and have a plan
Grabinsky also advised backcountry users to preserve their cell phone batteries in case the phone is needed as a rescue tool. He advised people to charge their batteries up and shut the phone off during the day so the batteries will be fully charged if needed.
The RCMP issued the following links to backcountry education, knowledge and information resources:
Get Prepared: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/vlchs-eng.aspx >
Canadian Avalanche Centre – http://www.avalanche.ca/
BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Avalanche and Weather Programs-