Cranbrook canine unit assists in Creston backcountry rescue

A Creston area backcountry user was the latest of many in BC that needed to be rescued by the RCMP and Search and Rescue volunteers.

  • Jan. 4, 2016 2:00 p.m.
Denim the Cranbrook Police Dog was instrumental in helping rescue a stranded Creston snowboarder.

Denim the Cranbrook Police Dog was instrumental in helping rescue a stranded Creston snowboarder.

A Creston area backcountry user, who became lost on Thompson Mountain on Sunday, was the latest of many in the province that needed to be rescued by the RCMP and Search and Rescue volunteers.

Creston RCMP received a report that a 23 year old Creston area man was lost on Thompson Mountain while snowboarding on Sunday, Dec. 27.

The man had been accompanied by a friend on snowmobile. It is common practice for skiers and snowboarders to access the backcountry by snowmobiles, each taking turns on descents.

The snowboarder had gotten lost and became separated from his partner, who in turn notified the RCMP. The Creston RCMP immediately activated the Creston Search and Rescue team who were assisted by Nelson Search and Rescue.

With the additional resources of an RCMP Police Service Dog and handler from Cranbrook, SAR volunteers and the RCMP dog team went into the area that evening and located fresh signs of the snowboarder.

RCMP Cpl. Sullivan with Police Dog Denim in tow skied into what was described as a dangerous gully area where they eventually caught up to the man who had kept moving slightly ahead of his rescuers.

“The terrain and conditions were quite treacherous; the young man may have been a bit shocked from hypothermia, as he kept moving ahead of me despite my calls out to him,” said Sullivan. “Once I reached him, had it not been for a large SAR group essentially digging a way to walk out, we’d of all spent the night on the mountain.”

Other than being cold the man had no apparent injuries. Cpl. Sullivan then waited with the snowboarder until Search and Rescue members could reach them. Due to the terrain that the snowboarder had gotten himself into, Search and Rescue members had to create a long path through the deep snow to the snowboarder’s location in order for all parties to be able to get out safely.

SAR volunteers and Cpl. Sullivan described the area as one where you don’t get out of alive, without some assistance.

“Again we remind backcountry users to take appropriate precautions including carrying the required gear for the conditions and being equipped in case of being stranded overnight,” said S/Sgt. Darryl Hammond. “Anyone needing assistance should always follow the directions of police and search and rescue team members. The Creston RCMP appreciates the dedication and efforts of our Search and Rescue volunteer members, from both Creston and Nelson teams.”