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Lost snowmobiler found alive

Missing man dug snow cave, stayed put for two nights



A snowmobiler from Burnaby was found alive and well Monday after spending two nights in the backcountry near Pemberton.

On Saturday 33-year-old Carl Mulherin was snowmobiling with two friends close to the Top of the World Glacier, a backcountry area that's accessible through a road close to the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99.

The RCMP got a report at 8:30 p.m. Saturday that one of the snowmobilers had gone missing. An experienced snowmobiler, Mulherin stayed where he was when he lost his friends. His snowmobile motor gave out but he had enough food and water to sustain him. He also had a shovel he used to dig out a snow cave, which he slept in for two nights.

Pemberton Search and Rescue launched a ground and aerial search at "first light" on Sunday. The RCMP sent out its Air 5 helicopter and a commercial chopper from Blackcomb Aviation. There were also patrollers on snowmobiles, including the two friends who lost him.

The search was called off on Sunday night but resumed on Monday. High avalanche danger kept searchers off snowmobiles and the RCMP had to rely on its choppers alone.

They located Mulherin at 1:55 p.m. Monday. He was extricated via helicopter and taken to the Pemberton Search and Rescue headquarters for debriefing and was reunited with his friends.

"He was in perfect health," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair. "He had a couple of chilly nights but he was okay. He was out, you know, Saturday night and Sunday night so he spent two nights out there."

LeClair said the Top of the World Glacier is located about 50 kilometres from Highway 99 and that anyone going into the area should at least have Avalanche Skills Training Level 1.

"Just because of the risk of avalanches occurring, they should be properly equipped with the beacon, shovel and probe," LeClair said.

"This guy did the right thing. When he discovered that he was separated from his companions, he stopped, it was about an hour before darkness, he stayed put. The next day his sled wouldn't start so he was stuck there. But again, he did the right thing by staying where he was and not trying to walk out."

The incident comes on the heels of a series of snowmobile fatalities elsewhere in B.C. Two men were killed and 30 others were injured in an avalanche on Boulder Mountain near Revelstoke on March 13. The slide happened at an event called the Big Iron Shootout. On Friday, March 19 another avalanche near Revelstoke claimed the life of one man and injured another.

Nelson Bastien, president of the Powder Mountain Snowmobile Club, said the Top of the World Glacier is a "very, very popular" area for snowmobiling and that it's "a lot safer" than the Revelstoke area. It is, however, fairly easy to get lost.

"If you've got low cloud and in bad weather it's easy (to get lost) because it's so immense," he said. "You can ride into a valley and you don't know where you're at. When the weather's bad, it's immense up there."