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GPS tracking assists in White Lake rescue

Shuswap Search and Rescue reach two men before they had to spend a night in the cold
Members of the Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue Society’s winter team hone their avalanche skills. File photo

A successful afternoon rescue effort above White Lake kept two men from having to spend the night outside in the cold.

Shuswap Search and Rescue (SAR) search manager John Schut said the volunteer organization received a call at 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, explaining a local company was out doing some service work and one of their party got stuck in the snow about 25 kilometres above White Lake.

“Our team, because it has to go through all the proper channels, through the emergency co-ordination centre and whatnot… was actually sent out at 4 p.m. and we had 10 people on that call-out,” said Schut.

The team, headed by search manager Gordon Bose, assembled at White Lake with six sleds and one side-by-side on tracks and then headed up.

“It was quite bad snow conditions, people were getting stuck and what have you, and it was not easygoing to get to these people,” said Schut. “So we got there and there were two subjects there, or guys, who were pretty happy to see us.”

The men had been on a side-by-side that had got stuck in snow after going off the main track.

“It’s really deep snow, deep tree wells, and they were, I’m going to say, way over their heads… The two of them just didn’t have the resources to get out,” said Schut.

Finding the men was a relatively simple, said Schut, owed to the men being able to provide GPS co-ordinates and a little good luck.

“It’s interesting, there’s a whole network of logging roads to get to this area,” Schut explained. “Our team happened to take all the right turns in the appropriate areas to get to them. None of our team got lost trying to find them which can easily happen if you’re following GPS.”

After finding the missing men, the SAR team got them onboard and were back at White Lake by around midnight.

“It was a long night,” said Schut.

Prior to Fridays outing and every winter call-out, Schut said the SAR team will check avalanche conditions in advance to make sure a search can be safely conducted.

“If it’s not safe, then our members aren’t going. We can maybe, the following day, come in with a helicopter or something,” said Schut.