It’d be comical if it wasn’t tinged with the potential for tragedy.
A helicopter carrying a Revelstoke Search & Rescue crew was hovering over the Montana Creek drainage area on Sunday. They were preparing to rescue a cold and wet father and son pair who’d spent most of a day plus a night in the forest. Then the surprise came along. Two other lost skiers made their way to the scene. Rescue us too, they signalled to the hovering helicopter. And they were also hauled up onto the helicopter and whisked off to safety.
Revelstoke Search & Rescue manager Buck Corrigan said the week was a busy one:
Nov. 30: A female skier got into trouble after she injured her knee while backcountry skiing on ‘The Fingers’ on Mount Macpherson. With the assistance of a friend, she managed to slide down the slope to where searchers could better access her. She was transported to hospital for treatment.
Dec. 4: Sunday was a busy one for Revelstoke SAR, rescuing three different groups, totalling seven people lifted by rope from the mountain by helicopter. All of them were removed from the slopes below Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s southern end, including the Montana Creek drainage and Kokanee Creek drainage.
The first party was a father-son pair who got lost after venturing out-of-bounds at RMR on Saturday. They were located after spending the night in the Montana Creek Drainage area. A helicopter carrying a Revelstoke Search & Rescue crew with rope sling rescue equipment were in the process of rescuing the hypothermic pair when two freshly-lost skiers made their way to the scene. They too were plucked from the mountain.
Finally, another three skiers were pulled from the Kokanee Creek drainage that day. A group of skiers on a CAT-skiing excursion at RMR failed to heed a guide’s direction to stop at the bottom of a slope. They proceeded onward. The guide managed to catch up with some of the party and send them back up. Two had gone too far. They, along with their guide, had to be rescued.
In a telephone interview, Corrigan said those who were rescued in the Montana Creek area this week were unprepared; nobody with knowledge of what they were doing would venture there. At lower elevations, snow coverage is about the same as in downtown Revelstoke: just enough to make every move slippery and dangerous. Certainly not sidecountry powder.
Corrigan expressed dissatisfaction with the status quo. Scores of people require rescue from the Montana Creek drainage each year. Not enough is being done to prevent people from getting lost there, is Corrigan’s concern.