News

Chilly ordeal over for cross country skiers

It was a cold night in the snow for a group of cross country skiers and search and rescue volunteers after a small avalanche stranded them in Strathcona Provincial Park last night.

Throughout the night and early morning hours, Comox Valley Search and Rescue (SAR) and the RCMP worked to reach the group of four skiers, stranded in Strathcona Provincial Park, following a minor avalanche.

One of the skiers sustained non-life threatening injuries in the slide, prompting a call for help to 9-1-1 shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Comox Valley RCMP said in a news release. That call initiated a rescue response involving the Comox Valley SAR and RCMP, with support from Mount Washington Ski resort. The avalanche location was outside of the Mount Washington Resort boundaries, in the back country area of Strathcona Provincial Park near Moat and Circlet Lakes.

Despite heavy snowfall and accumulations over the rugged terrain, SAR members reached the group shortly before 10 p.m. last night. The injured skier was subsequently airlifted from the park by the Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron (TRS), and transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox for medical treatment. The remaining three skiers, and SAR team members returned by ground to the command post set up at Raven Lodge.

Throughout the response effort, the group of skiers remained in regular contact with the RCMP Operational Communication Center in Courtenay via cell phone. The group, four men from the Comox Valley, age 18, 27, 30 and 30, were appropriately equipped for the weather conditions, and had experience in back country conditions.

Communities across Vancouver Island are extremely lucky to have such dedicated and experienced volunteer Search and Rescue teams, states Cpl. Darren Lagan of the Vancouver Island RCMP. Their efforts overnight, coupled with the preparedness of the ski group ensured a safe outcome to this operation.

Before venturing out into the back country areas of Vancouver Island, ensure you are prepared. Visit the Canadian Avalanche Centre website at www.avalanche.ca for trip planning support and current conditions.

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