Mark Gayowski was missing on Red Mountain for more than two days in a terrible snowstorm. (Submitted photo)

Missing skier found safe after spending three days caught in ‘horrific’ terrain

Successful end to three-day search for 34-year-old Mark Gayowski

A three-day search for a missing skier on Rossland’s Red Mountain has ended in success.

But it wasn’t easy.

Mark Gayowski was found in good health on New Year’s Day by search and rescue teams scouring a very rough patch of the mountainside along Esling Creek.

He was lost in an area with hundreds of huge downed trees, treacherous potholes with running creek underneath, and confusing terrain.

“It was so treacherous, it took our teams six hours to get in, and they didn’t get far,” says Mike Hudson, the South Columbia SAR leader. “Horrific is the best word to describe it.”

“The rescuers were falling off into the creek, it was horrible trying to climb over, under, and around all this stuff, especially with skis on.”

The search was hard from the start, with about 90 SAR members starting the search Monday night in heavy snowfall conditions, cold, fog, and freezing rain.

Rescuers got into the area a few hours earlier on New Years Day, Hudson says, and took a route that got them around some of the worst of the creek’s terrain, where they found Gayowski.

“He was in great health, had a smile but was extremely exhausted, but very happy to see the rescuers,” says Hudson.

A few minutes after locating the man, and with weather co-operating, Dam Helicopters of Nelson flew in and picked him up.

“The sky opened up in just the right time,” says Hudson. “The heli came down, picked up the subject, pulled him out, went back, picked up the teams and pulled them out. Then the sky closed back up and that was it. It was just perfect.”

The 34-year-old Rossland native was airlifted out of the backcountry and brought to SAR’s location at Red Mountain, where he was checked over by physicians.

It wasn’t the only search for SAR on New Year’s Day on Red. They received a second call for a young man who went missing on the mountain. Hudson says it turned out the youth walked up the mountain in tennis shoes and a light jacket, and eventually found shelter in a ski patrol shack. That incident took about two hours to clear.

Teams from Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, Kaslo, Grand Forks, Kimberly and Cranbrook all participated in the searches, as well as RCMP.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

Opening night lineup for online Roots & Blues festival released

The first night of the festival on Aug. 14 will be stacked with favourites from previous years

Revelstoke’s forestry museum launches podcasts and new website

One of their summer students is working remotely

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 6

Chautauqua, CPR strike and destructive fire

Morning Start: The human body contains trace amounts of gold

Your morning start for Friday, August 7, 2020

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Tech mogul growing North Okanagan’s wine industry

The founder of online dating site Plenty of Fish is developing 900 acres in Vernon

Fentanyl-laced powder being sold as cocaine in Kamloops

Interior Health has released a warning about very strong fentanyl in Kamloops

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

North Okanagan ranch needs support to stay afloat

Founded in 1867, a fundraiser has been launched for the Historic O’Keefe Ranch

Video: Enraged man terrifies staff and customers at Shuswap restaurant

Video on Facebook shows the man hurling profanity at workers during the dinner rush on Aug. 7.

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Number of Kelowna-linked COVID-19 cases grows to 159

Interior Health reported four new cases region-wide on Friday, 18 remain active

Most Read