A couple of snowmobilers who got stuck near Sugar Lake were rescued by Vernon Search and Rescue March 7. (VSAR photo)

Day trip turns dark for snowmobilers in North Okanagan

Couple went out “for a few hours” and almost got stuck spending the night out in the dark

A couple of snowmobilers stuck near Cherryville were rescued before having to spend a dark, lonely night in the mountains.

Vernon Search and Rescue were called by RCMP to assist with two individuals stuck in the Sugar Lake area late Saturday, March 7.

The two had been enjoying the sunny day and great snow conditions, doubling on their machine when they got stuck roughly 16 km from where they left their truck, Vernon Search and Rescue reports. Anticipating a trip of only a few hours, they hadn’t brought extra warm clothing, emergency supplies or gear to start a fire with them.

VSAR teams located the subjects’ truck after dark, and sent a team of seven searchers to find them.

Conditions were cold with clear skies and there was recent fresh snowfall and an avalanche assessment showed moderate to considerable risk in the area.

As teams mobilized, communication with the subjects through cell phone was established, and they were encouraged to stay with their machine and await rescue.

Within two hours, the search team arrived at the subjects’ location and was surprised to find that the two had, “excavated a hole in the snow the size of a truck,” commented the search team leader. “Despite their hard work, they weren’t able to free their machine. Working together, our search team was able to lift their snowmobile out of the hole, and we all drove back out.”

Back safe at their truck, the two were cold, exhausted and extremely thankful.

“Thanks to you guys, we made it out! Can’t tell you guys how much we appreciated the help,” were the words of one of the subjects.

Vernon Search and Rescue urge snowmobilers to consider a few of the factors in this situation:

– The two individuals were very lucky to have cell phone service in the spot they were stuck, and that they had battery life left to communicate with. Think of your communications gear and spare batteries or power.

– Even though the subjects called for help as soon as they determined they were in trouble, they were forced to spend many hours on the cold, dark mountain while help arrived. Especially in wilderness terrain, small challenges can create big problems.

– There is no such thing as, “just a short ride,” when accidents or emergencies happen. Don’t make the mistake of leaving without extra clothing, fire starting tools, food and water…every time.

Check out more good tips and life-saving tools at www.AdventureSmart.ca, and safely enjoy the beautiful wilderness that surrounds us.

READ MORE: Snow greets North Okanagan first day of DST

READ MORE: Highway 6 closed near Cherryville due to fallen tree


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

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