For the second time in a week, volunteer members of Shuswap Search and Rescue (SAR) were out in the cold all night instead of in their beds.
SAR search manager John Schut says the report of two missing sledders in the Sicamous backcountry near Owl Head was received at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Fourteen SAR members were assisted by several members of the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club.
Schut offered effusive praise to Gord Bushell, executive director of the snowmobile club.
“He was a really helpful guy, he got everything running with the club and found a pathway down to the guys,” said Schut, noting SAR member Gordon Bose and Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club avalanche safety co-ordinator Wes Gano got within half a kilometre on their snowmobiles and hiked down on snowshoes to get the men out of the steep and heavily treed terrain beyond Blue Lake.
The men were found at approximately 3 a.m. and arrived back at the club’s parking lot with their rescuers at 6 a.m., where the sledders were checked out by BC Ambulance paramedics.
“They were just trying to find other avenues to get out and get another run at the hill,” said Schut of the men he estimates to be in their mid-20s. “Every time they tried, they got in deeper, so eventually they gave up and tried to walk out.”
The sledders indicated they were heading back to Revelstoke, but their machines will remain where they are until their owners make arrangements to retrieve them.
Schut again reminds sledders that they are travelling in the often-inaccessible and difficult backcountry. He says luckily these young men were equipped with an “inreach” device that provided a GPS location and allowed text communications.
“When you think of the effort that was made by the guys that went down there, it was a tremendous effort and they worked all night long,” said a tired but relieved Schut.