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Stranded snowmobilers rescued in North Okanagan; on their own dime to retrieve sleds

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February 29, 2016 - 10:14 AM

"WE DON'T RESCUE SNOWMOBILES, WE RESCUE PEOPLE."

NORTH OKANAGAN - A group of people exploring the backcountry over the weekend have an expensive bill ahead of them after a poor judgement call got them — and their snowmobiles — stranded.

Thirteen members of Vernon Search and Rescue responded to a report of three snowmobilers stuck down a steep, narrow canyon near Finlayson Lakes in the Park Nelson area east of Mabel Lake on Sunday, Feb. 28 around 5 p.m., spokersperson Leigh Pearson says.

Rescuers snowshoed into the area and guided the individuals out safely, but Pearson says the group will have to hire a helicopter to recover their snowmobiles.

“We don’t rescue snowmobiles, we rescue people,” Pearson says.

He says the terrain was extremely steep and isn’t surprised the group got stuck. It took rescuers about an hour of tough climbing to get back up the canyon.

“Going down of course is easy because it's downhill, but it was just way too steep and quite heavily forested so there was no room to maneuver (back out),” Pearson says, adding heavy, wet snow was also a factor.

“These three fellows were apparently experienced and went down anyway, maybe they thought there was a short cut out.”

Earlier this year, search and rescue responded to two similar incidents involving sledders who got stuck down steep terrain, one on Jan. 23 near Shuswap Lake and another Jan. 26 in the Owl’s Head area.

“It’s a very common scenario for why people get into trouble,” Pearson says.

The team has been summoned for numerous snowmobile related calls this winter, with Sunday’s rescue marking nearly a dozen calls.

“It’s been extremely busy snowmobile-wise,” Pearson says. “Who knows why.”

Last winter, Pearson says there were only called out three to four times to rescue people on snowmobiles.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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