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My Mountain Co-op and the staff of Shames Mountain are reminding back country users that there are inherent risks and hazards to skiing and snowboarding in the back country after two very experienced back country skiers were involved a potentially life threatening situation December 18, 2018.
At 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon, General Manager of Shames Mountain, Christian Theberge, received an inReach emergency satellite message from one of the skiers indicating that his partner had been missing for more than two hours. The skiers had been skiing in the backcountry in an area known as No Dogs when one of the skiers lost a ski and ended up face down in a tree well. The other skier was unaware this had happened. When he realized he was alone, he immediately began searching for his missing partner.
At around 3:30 p.m. the lost skier was found trapped in a tree well by his ski partner, but was extremely cold and unable to move on his own accord. Fortunately, the lost skier’s pack, which had been out of his reach throughout the ordeal, was equipped with all manner of emergency gear including a warming blanket, medical supplies and tools to make a fire.
Knowing that he was at that point, unable to move on his own accord, Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) was called. Because of the late time of day, SAR was unable to deploy a helicopter and a ground rescue was organized.
Eventually, the lost skier warmed up enough to be able to move on his own accord and both skiers made their way to the valley bottom where they were met by SAR members who assessed the men and escorted them on skiis back to the Shames Mountain ski area lodge area.
This incident occurred on a non-operational day at Shames Mountain but Shames’ manager and employees activated the chair lift, snow cat, opened the lodge and provided wi-fi services to support SAR in their efforts to locate and assist the two skiers.
“This incident is a reminder that avalanches aren’t the only risk in the back country. Anything can happen, even to experienced back country enthusiasts,” says general manager, Christian Theberge.
“This outcome is the best case scenario thanks to the dedication of the missing skier’s partner and the fact that they were experienced, prepared for an emergency, equipped with emergency provisions and most importantly, had the inReach system which enabled them to call for help. “
The lost skier, fortunately, did not sustain any significant injuries and was assessed at Mills Memorial Hospital and released.
“We are very grateful to Terrace Search and Rescue and the many volunteers that were prepared to assist in this rescue – our community pulls together quickly in times like this and we are happy that this story has a happy ending,” says Theberge. “We urge everyone to exercise care and always be prepared before going into the back country.”