Lost skier 'extremely lucky' to survive -20 C temperatures in Squamish backcountry
VANCOUVER -- A skier who’d planned to spend a few hours in the Squamish backcountry on Thursday ended up overnighting in -20 C temperatures and doing jumping jacks to avoid freezing to death.
Squamish Mounties say they found out the skier was missing shortly before midnight on Thursday, but that he ultimately walked out on his own after dusk on Friday and was treated for “extensive exposure injuries”.
“He was extremely lucky,” said Squamish Search and Rescue manager BJ Chute. “We had about 15 members respond initially and then we called in members from Coquitlam, North Shore, Lions Bay, Whistler and Pemberton as well just given the extreme temperatures and weather we’ve been having the past couple of days.”
While the man was dressed for winter weather, RCMP told Chute he was running on the spot and doing jumping jacks through the night to stay warm.
While doing aerial searches, volunteers spotted skis in the drainage of a creek where the terrain is steep and extremely dangerous, so they dropped off a team down the creek from the gear. They’re not yet sure how the skier found his own way out, but received a call from police indicating that he’d made his way to a trail where snowshoers called 911 to report he’d been found, even as SAR teams were still searching for him.
Chute plans to interview the man after he’s had a chance to recover from the experience, and is emphasizing that everyone considering going into the backcountry over the Family Day long weekend should look at the incident as a wakeup call.
“It is critical, particularly in winter, that people are trained for the activity they take, that they file a trip plan with a trusted friend or colleague and that they take the essential equipment,” he said, urging people to do their research before venturing out. “Think ahead, especially now with the extreme weather we’re having, that does include survival gear and that they are prepared to spend the night or a few (nights), should something happen.”