Hope Search and Rescue aided in finding a skier near the Coquihalla summit on Monday night. (Contributed)

Hope Search and Rescue aided in finding a skier near the Coquihalla summit on Monday night. (Contributed)

26 SAR members assist in late-night rescue of skier near Coquihalla Summit

Hope, Chilliwack and Central Fraser Valley SAR dispatched

Hope Search and Rescue was part of a large-scale operation to help a lost skier find her way back home after she became disoriented near the Coquihalla Summit.

According to Hope Search and Rescue president Barry Gannon, the search began on Monday night at about 7 p.m. It took 26 SAR workers – from Hope, Central Fraser Valley and Chilliwack Search and Rescue – seven hours to find the skier, who went to Falls Lake and couldn’t find her way back. Some searched the area on skis while others were on snowmobiles.

The lost skier sustained no injuries.

“The team that was made to wait on the trail just before Falls Lake…stumbled across her and brought her out,” Gannon said. “She was okay, just cold and wet.”

Gannon said it’s common for skiers to get disoriented around Falls Lake.

RELATED: Busy weekend for Hope Search and Rescue on local highways

“Mostly what happens is they get turned around on the trail up there,” he added. “Instead of coming back toward Highway 5 in the parking lot, they go left instead of right and they get turned around. They go into the underbrush and get disoriented.”

For those who are going out skiing, they should come prepared with the proper supplies to stay overnight in the back country in the event Search and Rescue is needed.

“She did have a backpack; she would probably have survived overnight, but I don’t think it was enough,” Gannon said. “You’ve got to be able to make yourself a shelter overnight because sometimes we can’t get in to get them.”

Gannon recommends anyone venturing into the bush, skiing or otherwise, to invest in an SOS beacon, an alert device designed to send a distress signal and GPS coordinates to SAR and emergency workers. At the very least, they should go in with a fully charged phone or backup power source so pinging a phone to determine location can be an option; the missing skier’s phone battery was dead. Backpacks taken into the bush during the winter in particular should have supplies to keep outdoor adventurers warm and dry.

RELATED: Hope search crews go on back-to-back call outs in Hope, Sunshine Valley

In the event people find themselves lost, they should stay put, Gannon said.

“We always tell people to stay put, because if they’re on the move, we can’t find them. It’s harder for us to find them if they’re moving.”

Gannon said the skier did the right thing in texting a friend who was familiar with the area where she was going.

“Make sure to do a trip plan,” he recommends. “They should have the trip planned when they’re going in and when they’re expected to come out.”


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