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Long, cold night for father and son lost in the alpine

A father and son spent a chilly night in the mountains above Cherryville earlier this week.
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September 27, 2013 - 2:27 PM

VERNON - With no tent, no water and few provisions, a Cherryville man and his son did the only thing they could after getting lost in the darkness and fog Wednesday night: they sat down and waited.

The 52-year-old man and his 17-year-old son had walked into the wilderness of the Vidler Creek area with a friend but they became separated trying to find their way back home.

“They’d been marking the route with dark red flags but you couldn’t see them in the dark,” Leigh Pearson, search and rescue manager says.

They split up to find the flags, but darkness had fallen and they quickly lost sight of each other. The lone man was found by a family search party early the next morning, but the father and son weren’t located until later that afternoon. Vidler Creek is located about 7000 above sea level and Pearson says snow was falling as his team searched for the missing men.

“They were cold, wet and tired,” Pearson says of the men. “They were wearing cotton blue jeans, one was wearing a cotton hoodie. When cotton gets wet it has zero insulation. You’d be better off to take it off.”

Eventually, reality set in and the father and son gave up hope of making it home to their beds. They built a fire, huddled together, and braced for a very long night. Pearson says they had the right idea.

“Wandering around in the dark is when you’re going to break ankles or legs and just get more lost,” Pearson says.

Just under 20 volunteers came out to assist in the search Thursday. Pearson says a helicopter would have helped, but with the heavy fog it wasn’t feasible.

“We were on ATVs and on foot sweeping the roads and trails. There’s just a mess of them up there,” Pearson says. “It’s a bit of a challenge up there. When you’re in the woods it’s always a challenge.”

In the morning, the men started hiking—in the wrong direction, according to Pearson. Around 2 p.m. they crossed paths with search and rescue.

“The men shouldn’t feel too badly about getting lost,” Pearson says. “With the darkness and fog, in a heartbeat you can get turned around.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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