Revelstoke Search and Rescue (RSAR) volunteers Mike Gunner and Jeni Gibbs, and certified Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog (CARDA) Joss, debrief following a successful burial search exercise. Joss found Caroline Hillyard in less than 30 seconds buried in the BCA Backcountry Ranch at the top of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) gondola. Hillyard volunteered for the demonstration during RSAR’s backcountry information day at RMR on March 10. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

PHOTOS + VIDEO: Plan ahead, be prepared, says Revelstoke Search and Rescue

On Saturday Revelstoke SAR held a backcountry information day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Caroline Hillyard’s sons looked on in awe as three year-old labrador Joss and Revelstoke Search and Rescue (RSAR) volunteer Jeni Gibbs worked together to find their mom hidden in the snow. The burial exercise and demonstration of Joss’s Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association certified skills was part of a backcountry information day hosted by RSAR at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) on Saturday.

“We’re out here today to bring some awareness to our community about how to stay safe in the backcountry,” said Gibbs, taking a quick break from engaging with the public at the top of the RMR gondola. “Our resort has a couple bowls on the outskirts of the terrain that can trap people and they can get stuck overnight.”

Gibbs recommended those venturing into the backcountry come prepared and plan ahead.

She said that anyone partaking in adventures outside of the resort should have a trip plan and let their loved ones know when they plan to be back. She also said that if you plan to ski or snowboard in the backcountry, it’s essential you get the proper training and knowledge so that you know how to use your shovel, beacon and probe.

Gibbs said people were receptive to RSAR’s message on Saturday.

Alexander Ryden, who spoke with RSAR at the top of the RMR gondola, said he was grateful to see RSAR out in full force.

According to Gibbs, the RSAR information day comes following RSAR having been sent out on 27 calls in 2018, one of which involved the search for Michael David Foster, who was found dead on Feb. 17 five days after venturing outside the resort boundary.

Foster was alone, is reported to have had little backcountry experience, did not have a trip plan, and did not let his loved ones know of his plans to travel outside of the resort.

Related: Body of missing skier found

Related: Revelstoke Search and Rescue attended eight calls in January

A social media post from RSAR said the event was held partly in response to Foster’s death.

RSAR Mike Gunner said those kinds of incidents are not uncommon, and part of why RSAR was out engaging with the public on Saturday.

“It’s not uncommon for people to wander out of bounds and spend the night outside,” said Gunner. “It’s not easy to spend the night outside in the mountains unprepared.”

The full day event saw about half a dozen RSAR members posted at the top of gondola and some of the common backcountry access points. They engaged with the public and made sure backcountry ski and snowboarders were prepared, urging them to plan ahead, carry the requisite gear and know how to use it.

“If we can prevent even one person from spending an unprepared night in the unforgiving mountains that we live in, then this event will be considered a success,” said Gunner in a press release.


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RSAR Jeni Gibbs briefs Caroline Hillyard before she participates in an avalanche burial exercise. Hillyard volunteered for the exercise during RSAR’s backcountry awareness day on Saturday. Pictured here husband Peter Dixon and son Adam Dixon watch mom. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

RSAR Jeni Gibbs rewards CARDA certified Joss with a game of tug and war after she discovers Hillyard buried in the snow in less than thirty seconds. The burial exercise was part of a backcountry awareness day hosted by RSAR at RMR on Saturday. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

Dylan Dixon demonstrates proper shovel technique during RSAR’s backcountry awareness day on Saturday. Mom Caroline Hillyard and brother Rhys look on. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

Rhys Dixon really enjoys this icicle during RSAR’s backcountry awareness day on Saturday. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

RSAR Jeni Gibbs and Mike Gunner pose at the top of the RMR gondola where RSAR had a tent set up to educate the public on the dangers of adventuring in the backcountry on Saturday. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

RSAR Jeni Gibbs and CARDA certified Joss pose for a photo before participating in an avalanche burial exercise. Joss found Caroline Hillyard in less than 30 seconds. The exercise was part of a backcountry awareness day hosted by RSAR on Saturday at RMR. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

RSAR Jeni Gibbs and CARDA certified Joss speak with Max and Felix at the top of the RMR Gondola. On Saturday RSAR held a backcountry awareness day at RMR. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

RSAR Mike Gunner chats with Alexander Ryden about backcountry safety and preparation at the top of the RMR gondola. Ryden said he was grateful to see RSAR out and about on the resort on Saturday. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

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