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Snowmobilers located safely, fatalities in other incidents

Search and Rescue locate two overdue snowmobilers near Radium Hot Springs, fatalities in separate incidents in B.C. Interior.

Two snowmobilers were located on Tuesday by Columbia Valley Search and Rescue near Radium Hot Springs after failing to check in with family members on Monday evening.

The two Albertan snowmobilers had been staying at the Olive Hut, located adjacent to the Catamount Glacier, but failed to return home when expected, which prompted family members to contact the authorities.

A helicopter was dispatched immediately dispatched due to the fading daylight, however, inclement weather did not allow the aircraft to reach the hut.

Authorities were able to speak with other sledders in the area who had been in contact the missing men and were told to stay put if weather conditions worsened and affected visibility.

The two spent the night in the Olive Hut and two avalanche technicians and a search dog returned to the area at first light to assess conditions and do a sweep of the area.

Again, inclement weather limited helicopter access to the glacier and the Olive Hut, so snowmobiles were used to reach the missing sledders, who were found in good condition, but low on fuel. Search and Rescue personnel were able to lead them out of the glacier and back to their vehicle and staging area.

"Travel in the mountains in the winter should not be taken lightly," read a press release from the CVSAR. "We are happy that everything worked out but things could have been different. Every person in avalanche terrain must have the appropriate safety gear: transceiver, probe, and shovel and be knowledgeable of the areas they are travelling in.

"Glaciers also present hazards such as crevasses and whiteouts that hinder visibility and cause trouble navigating. CVSAR recommends taking an avalanche safety course and preparing for the area you are travelling in. Check the avalanche condition bulletin and weather prior to departing."

Kimberley Search and Rescue was not involved with the operation, but were on standby if needed, according to Peter Reid.

The CVSAR conducted the operation in collaboration with the RCMP, Big Horn Helicopters and the Windermere Valley Snowmobile Club.

It's a positive outcome in contrast to a tragic situation in the West Kootenay and B.C. Interior as one snowmobiler was killed near Castlegar and two snowmobilers died in an avalanche in Wells Grey provincial park on Monday.

The Castlegar incident was reported by RCMP after a man was reported overdue by family from a day-long excursion near the city.

Local Search and Rescue teams were activated and dispatched to a scene reported by another snowmobiler, who had found a snowmobile partially buried from an avalanche.

SAR crews flew into the scene on Tuesday morning and conducted a search in conjunction with an RCMP Air Services helicopter, safely recovering the man's body.

Next of kin have been notified and the B.C. Coroners Service is investigating.

Further into the B.C. Interior, two snowmobilers died in an avalanche on Monday in Wells Grey provincial park near Blue River.

There were five other snowmobilers who survived the avalanche, as Kamloops Search and Rescue conducted recovery operations on Tuesday morning.


Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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