By Clare Ogilvie
No one will ever know why Roch Langlois headed out of bounds off Blackcomb Mountain.
But as Search and Rescue members followed first his ski tracks down the north side of the mountain, then found his abandoned skis near Wedge Creek before following meandering ski boot footprints back up the slope it was clear the 34-year-old Quebec tourist was confused.
“It was indicative of irrational behaviour,” said Brad Sills, head of Whistler’s Search and Rescue.
By the time SAR was in the air and on the ground Sunday, March 4, Langlois hadn’t been seen for two and a half days.
He was found dead, likely of extreme hypothermia, not far from Green Lake. An autopsy will be performed.
His friends had reported him missing to RCMP March 2 but, said RCMP Cst. Ann Marie Gallop, “they weren’t overly concerned about him.”
Langlois, believed to be an only child, had been dealing with personal issues, said Sills, which may have contributed to his decision-making. And he had been known to go off on his own for a couple of days at a time.
Despite these circumstances Sills believes it was only a matter of time before a backcountry user met their maker this year, based on the large number of calls for rescue so far.
“We have already done our annual average and there is months of winter left,” said Sills, adding they are responding to 10 to 15 calls a week.
He reminded backcountry users not to go out alone, to be familiar with the territory and to carry proper equipment to survive should they get stuck.
“It is absolutely foolish to travel out there by yourself and this unfortunately is the result and it is what everyone has been warning people about,” said Sills.
“If you think you can go outside those boundaries with no knowledge you are running this risk.”
The search used three helicopters, volunteer SAR members from Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton, the RCMP and other responders. It had to be big, said Sills, since they had no idea where he was.