ROSSLAND - The overnight rescue of two fathers and a group of eight kids from the backcountry of a ski resort in the West Kootenays should be a warning to others to stay in bounds unless they have a GPS tracking device, a search and rescue expert says.
The group - up from Washington State and staying at one of the adult’s resort properties - spent a chilly night huddled with rescuers after accidentally going out of bounds on a new portion of Red Mountain Resort, near Rossland.
“A little bit of a mistake and an accident got them out of bounds and into trouble,” said Rossland RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dave Johnson.
The last of the group, which included children of various ages, were helicoptered out early Monday afternoon and all are uninjured and in good spirits, according to Johnson.
North Shore Search and Rescue manager Tim Jones said if skiers have a GPS unit, they can then backtrack once they get lost out of bounds, retracing their steps to safety.
Jones said cellphones may be of help if lost in the backcountry, but pointed to a device like the inReach satellite communicator as the most reliable option.
“If you are skiing in areas that are backcountry you should have a GPS unit with you,” Jones said.
The inReach unit can send and receive text messages or trigger an SOS signal to 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.
Johnson said search and rescue operations involving skiers would be much easier if everyone on the mountain had GPS devices, though that is unlikely.
“If these were backcountry people who had planned to go out in the backcountry - you need to be prepared,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Mounties say a group of four backcountry skiers were rescued from an avalanche near Hope Creek, northwest of Golden, Sunday afternoon when one of them triggered an SOS with an inReach device.
The alarm was triggered around 4 p.m. and a SAR crew was able to reach the group in the late evening, according to RCMP spokeswoman Const. Lesley Smith. One skier had a broken leg and another a badly injured knee, she added.
The group was flown out by helicopter in the morning light.
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