John Schut photo An RCMP helicopter arrives at the Owlhead snowmobile area trailhead Monday morning, Jan. 29, after a successful search for two missing sledders who got separated from their group and wound up having to spend the night on the mountain.

Missing sledders found safe after overnight stay on Owlhead

Search effort delayed by harsh winter weather, avalanche conditions

  • Jan. 29, 2018 10:40 a.m.

An RCMP helicopter was a sight for sore eyes Monday morning for two snowmobilers who had spent the night outdoors on Owlhead.

At 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, Shuswap Search and Rescue received a report of two Albertan snowmobilers who had gone missing on the mountain that afternoon.

Search manager John Schut said the men had become separated from the group they were with. However, the severe winter weather and avalanche conditions meant the search wouldn’t commence until the following morning, after an avalanche technician determined it was safe.

A search party went up on snowmobiles but only made it as far as the Owlhead chalet, as it was unsafe to go any further.

Meanwhile, an RCMP Southeast District Air Services helicopter with an avalanche technician and a member of the local snowmobile club conducted a search by air. It was followed by a second chopper with a Vernon Search and Rescue winch team on board.

“It was pretty iffy whether the helicopters were going to be able to get in there and look for them. It could have been we wouldn’t have been able to go in and look for them with the high avalanche risk…,” said Schut. “But there was a window where the helicopter was able to come in and search. The found them and the second helicopter picked them up.”

Sicamous RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk reports the RCMP helicopter crew located both men at approximately 10 a.m., approximately five kilometres south of the chalet.

“The men’s snowmobiles were stuck in the deep snow; however, the men were in good condition,” said Moskaluk.

Moskaluk said the missing men, a 25 year old from Calgary and a 27 year old from Rocky View, were both well equipped with adequate clothing, survival gear and food.

“This is another example of the need to be properly equipped for unforeseen emergencies while enjoying the backcountry,” says Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil. “Snowmobilers are urged to carry the essential gear; probe, transceiver and shovel, along with proper winter survival gear.”

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Shuswap Search and Rescue volunteers organize at the Owlhead snowmobile area trailhead. John Schut photo

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