A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

UPDATE: Both sledders were found safely by the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 23.

When Colin Jalbert bought a used snowmobile last week, the original owner threw in a shovel.

Just a few days later, the Prince George resident was desperately using that shovel to dig out his sled on Yanks Peak near Wells.

Jalbert was among a group of 20 riders from Prince George who arrived at the mountain around 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 22. When they reached the top of the mountain, Jalbert lost control of his sled and was separated from the group. Another member of the group, Mike Harbak, was also separated and remains missing. Wells RCMP, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake Search and Rescue crews and the Wells Snowmobile Club are still searching for Harbak today.

READ MORE: Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

“I just went for a little rip, hit a drift and my handlebars were loose so when I landed I couldn’t hold my line and ended up having to follow another trail that led into the trees,” said Jalbert, who added it was his first time mountain riding. “As a new mountain rider, I got way in over my head. It bottle-necked uphill between some tree, I hesitated for a second and got stuck in a really s***** spot.”

Jalbert could hear his group’s sleds in the distance, but terrifyingly, they couldn’t hear his screaming or whistles. He had a beacon, avalanche pack, and some basic survival gear, but wishes he had brought a radio.

“I could hear them going by in the distance but they couldn’t hear me over the sleds,” he said. “I used my whistle and screamed but nothing [happened] so I just kept digging. I was determined to get the hell outta there.”

Although Jalbert had spent a lot of time riding before, it was always on groomed trails and rivers in Ontario. He wasn’t prepared for getting buried in five feet of snow.

“I literally had to dig all around my sled to get it turned around and make a path to get out and back on top of the snow and by then it was 4 p.m.,” he said. “I shovelled for I think four to five hours non-stop. Worse come to worst I was going to make a shelter and start a fire.”

After digging a 100-square-foot hole to extract the snowmobile, an exhausted Jalbert made the trek back to his truck.

“It was getting dark and starting to snow. Not gonna lie, I was scared and I was soaked from sweating,” he said. “I feel horrible for leaving someone out there but with my level of experience there would have been both of us stuck out there.”

Jalbert said it was a tough way to learn that snowmobiling in the mountains takes different skills than normal riding and mastering slopes and terrain can be tricky.

“Mountain riding isn’t as easy as it looks and I got a reality check really quickly on how fast things can go sideways. [It’s] not to be taken lightly,” he said. “I could be the one still out there.”

READ MORE: Large attendance for avalanche awareness seminar a good sign of shift in back-country culture

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Salmon Arm Elks Lodge kept up their charitable giving despite COVID-19 restrictions by holding a successful 50/50 draw. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Elks support charitable giving with succesful 50/50 draw

The winner of the draw took home over $4,000.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is comfortable waiting his turn to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as per the B.C. government’s updated vaccination timeline released on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (File photo)
Province’s vaccine timeline a shot of hope for Salmon Arm mayor

Mayor Alan Harrison sees majority of residents taking precautions against COVID-19

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Veteran Henry Kriwokon has his photo taken by the Western as he celebrates his 99th birthday with friends at the Cellar in Downtown Penticton. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)
Turning 101, Penticton veteran looks back on life

Henry Kriwokon was one of the soldiers in the famous ‘Wait for me, Daddy’ photo

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Most Read