Four male skiers in their early 20s visiting Whistler got a bit
of a scare Thursday, after getting lost outside of the ski area.
Brad Sills, manager of Whistler Search and Rescue (SAR), says
missing skiers first contacted a friend at around 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20.
“We got a report yesterday from the RCMP that they had received
a report from the missing party’s roommate, and it was a text message at three
o’clock yesterday afternoon, and the first section says, “we’re lost, don’t
worry,” and then a second text message at 4:30 said
“we’re still lost, tried 911, no luck. Send help.’”
SAR did a preliminary investigation and sent search teams out
to comb the Cheakamus Lake trail area, hoping to find them through sound
searching, but had no luck. They headed in around 11:30 p.m. and started
searching again at 5 a.m. Friday morning.
“We chartered a helicopter and commenced aerial operations,
sighted them at approximately 8:30 a.m. in a rockband about 3,000 feet above
the Cheakamus Lake Road, and we commenced long-line rescue technique then,
flying them out on a long line underneath the helicopter,” said Sills.
After being airlifted out of the area, the men were brought to
the local RCMP detachment for debriefing.
Luckily, no one was injured in the misadventure, but Cst.
Afzeel Yakub says they were probably pretty shaken up.
Sills says this situation isn’t uncommon, especially at the
beginning of the season, and people often think that going out of bounds is
much safer than it actually is.
“It’s quite common for people that don’t know the out of bounds
area. It’s a huge area and it has gained such popularity that people think it’s
a common activity to go out of bounds.”
He cautions people to make sure they are fully prepared if they
decide to leave the designated ski areas.
“If you’re entertaining the idea of going outside of the ski area, you are outside of the ski area, which means that you need to be self-sufficient. You need to know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and you need to be prepared in case something goes wrong.”