Taylor Dumonceaux and Andrew MacLeod know they’re lucky to be alive.
The two 24-year-olds from Kelowna went missing on Boulder Mountain, a popular snowmobile area near Revelstoke, Jan. 6, and weren’t located until just after 1 p.m on Jan. 7 by Revelstoke Search and Rescue.
“Hard to put into words how thankful we are to be home,” Dumonceaux said in a recent post. “Most of all we want to thank the Revelstoke Search and Rescue and all the volunteers within the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club for the amazing job they did searching for us all night and all day. Life can change in a matter of hours, lucky for us things turned out for the best.”
MacLeod seconded that.
“The people that rescued us are an amazing group. These people didn’t even know us and put their (lives) on the line for complete strangers. I feel so relieved and grateful that I can see my family today,” he said.
Dumonceaux and MacLeod had spent the night on the mountain and RCMP said they were both cold, though in good overall health.
Revelstoke Search and Rescue spent five hours looking for the pair Saturday and another five hours Sunday. According to a family member, the men had rented one Polaris 150 pro and one Ski-Doo 850 and with limited sledding experience, a rented flare kit and avalanche pack they went into the back country. RCMP do not think the men had food, water, or overnight equipment.
According to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR), the incident puts the spotlight on the need to be well-prepared in the backcountry. COSAR search manager Dave Crawford said one of the most important things to do when heading out is to have a trip plan where you tell someone where you are going and when you are expected back.
“Then, if you do find yourself in a situation, you don’t need to do anything. You can sit tight and be confident the alarm will be raised and search and rescue will come for you,” said Crawford, who also noted that you should not move once you are lost. “A lot of times people get into trouble because they get lost and they decide they have to keep moving to find their way out. But that can make it worse because you are making yourself more lost, you’re losing valuable energy.”
Crawford said a website has been developed by B.C. search and rescue groups (adventuresmart.ca) that lists the 10 essentials for backcountry travel and he urged residents to study the site before heading out.
He said current conditions in the backcountry are deteriorating, with avalanche hazards increasing due to the weather.
“It’s very scary right now,” he said. “Snowpacks don’t like change and we’ve seen a lot of change in the past few weeks. We’ve seen a cooling trend followed by snowfall and then followed by warming trends.”
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