Drone used to help rescue 7 people out-of-bounds at ski resort
Published Tuesday, February 21, 2017 7:44AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 21, 2017 7:13PM PST
Seven missing skiers and snowboarders were rescued by search crews in B.C.'s Interior after a long night out in the elements near Kamloops.
Crew members say the incident was entirely avoidable.
The last two missing skiers were located just after 4 a.m. but not before spending the night in frigid temperatures and waist deep snow in the backcountry.
One of the rescued snowboarders said he and a friend followed another group of five skiers out of bounds in an area on Sun Peaks Mountain called West Bowl Monday afternoon.
The skiers ducked under the ropes and the snowboarders followed, but no one knew where they were going.
The group ended up in a treacherous area of backcountry for more than nine hours.
They were attempting to hike out in waist deep snow -- when searchers located them.
"We wanted to try something exciting -- more wild. So we go down there and realize there's no way out," one snowboarder, who only identified himself as Victor, said after coming off the mountain.
Cassidy Simpson of Kamloops Search and Rescue said a contour in the slope makes people think they're moving down towards the village, when in reality they're actually headed into trouble.
"It's very misleading. It actually leads to a ravine, which can be challenging for some of the best and fit people."
Drones equipped with heat-detecting cameras were dispatched after search crews had a general idea of where the group was, in order to pinpoint their location.
The new technology reduced the time those seven people spent in the elements, and likely played a role in the fact that everyone rescued walked away in good condition, said Simpson.
The drone is being made available to the search group on a pilot project.
"It can fly at a fairly fast speed, so it's great for covering a lot of ground quickly," he said.
Search and rescue crews are using the incident as a reminder to be prepared if you're entering the B.C. backcountry.
A total of 18 search crew members, including two avalanche techs, took part in the rescue.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald