Stranded skiers rescued off B.C. mountain

Credits: Stevens LeBlanc/JOURNAL DE QUEBE

Bill Kaufmann | QMI AGENCY

Overcoming bad rescue weather, four skiers who'd spent a night stranded on a B.C. skill hill after venturing out-of-bounds were plucked from a mountainside Thursday morning.

On Wednesday afternoon a Swedish man and his sons, aged 11, 15 and 17, skied beyond the boundaries on the southern side of Revelstoke Mountain Resort and found themselves trapped in a steep gully.

The father was able to contact authorities by cellphone, but darkness and the tight terrain prevented the four from being rescued Wednesday night, resort general manager Rob Elliott said.

"It's very difficult terrain ... it's more of a jungle," he said.

Rescuers with Revelstoke Search and Rescue who'd located the four dropped them survival supplies, including sleeping bags, food, a stove and tarp.

Temperatures on the mountain fell to about -8C overnight, he said.

"They were waiting for the weather to break," he said. "They had a cold night."

Early Thursday, crews were still unable to drop a line to hoist the skiers from the woods because of snow and high winds, Elliott said.

But at around 9 a.m. a helicopter crew managed to pluck the family from their impromptu wooded encampment.

After being recovered, the four were deemed in good shape but were checked out at a local hospital, the RCMP said.

The skiers might not have been familiar with the hill, said Elliott, who added warnings are nonetheless highly visible.

He said the area the family blundered into is known as Montana Creek, which is deceiving and leads to confined, rugged terrain that routinely fools skiers who venture out of bounds.

"It happens maybe three to five times a year ... it's very frustrating, it's an ongoing thing," he said.

He noted a wayward snowboarder rescued on Tuesday at the Vancouver-area Cypress Mountain ski area after being missing three days was billed $10,000 to cover the cost of the operation.

He said mandatory fines for reckless behaviour requiring costly rescues might encourage safer skiing practices.

"I know helicopter time is expensive," he said.
Revelstoke resort has sought $1,000 payments from skiers in the past - money that goes back to the search-and rescue-crew.

"Of course, there's the question of whether they pay," he said.

But the latest rescue at his resort, Elliott said, was covered by provincial funding, leaving Revelstoke Mountain off the hook.

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