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Men rescued after crashing snowmobile into 'invisible' creek

Vernon Search and Rescue responded to their first call of 2014 on January 1 after two men got their snowmobile stuck in a snow bridge. (This image does not depict the Jan. 1 rescue.)
Image Credit: Silver Star Mountain
January 02, 2014 - 12:24 PM

VERNON - Vernon Search and Rescue’s first call of duty for 2014 went off without a hitch.

Search manager Leigh Pearson says they received a report of two snowmobilers stranded in the Silver Star Mountain snowmobile area at 4:30 p.m. January 1.

The pair had crashed their rented snowmobile into a snow bridge—a layer of snow over a creek.

“It’s completely invisible until the second it gives way underneath you,” Pearson says.

He adds it’s rare for a snow bridge to collapse because they typically build up through the winter and can hold large weights, but he’s seen it happen before.

“For a beginner snowmobiler, like these two, it’s pretty easy to get your machine stuck,” Pearson says.

Trickier is getting it unstuck. The men had been trying to free the snowmobile for hours before contacting Search and Rescue with their cell phone. Through intermittent phone conversations, Pearson says the men were found within 15 minutes. Many SAR members are avid snowmobilers with a good knowledge of the trails in the area, Pearson says. The Silver Star Ski Patrol also lent manpower to the search.

When Search and Rescue located the men, it took them about five minutes to free the machine—a skill that comes with experience, Pearson says. The snowmobilers, in their mid to late twenties, were cold but in good health.

It’s lucky they were found so quickly, because they had no emergency resources with them and darkness was falling fast. At a minimum, Pearson recommends bringing these three necessities if you are planning an excursion into the wilderness: food, water and the means to light a fire. A tarp for shelter is also a good idea.

Search and Rescue didn’t respond to any calls from the Silver Star area in 2013, though they were busy at Hunter’s Range and in the Mabel Lake area.

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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