An unidentified man went out for a solo sled mission to Owl’s Head mountain range on Sunday afternoon near Sicamous, B.C. He was expected to return sometime Monday, but when he didn’t show, his family began to worry. He was found dead buried beneath avalanche debris by search and rescue crews on Tuesday.
“The Sicamous RCMP immediately activated the Shuswap Search and Rescue team and at first light the RCMP Air 4 helicopter flew into the area, in efforts to locate any sign of the man, while ground search crews made their way to the specific area.” – RCMP spokesperson Dan Moskaluk in a news release.
By early Tuesday morning, March 8th, the family engaged search and rescue services from Shuswap, other members of the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club, Eclipse Helicopter, family and friends helped with the search, and even a Ministry of Transportation technician and Infrastructure avalanche technician (who were able to assess risks to ground crews).
RCMP spokesperson Dan Moskaluk helped recover the body of the 34 year old Sicamous man from avalanche debris in the Morton Lake area of the Owl’s Head range. He mentioned that it was known that the missing man was carrying a spot beacon and an avalanche transceiver/ receiver.
“Hampered by poor visibility, the air search was short, however successful in locating a fresh avalanche slide and a single snowmobile track”. – RCMP spokesperson Dan Moskaluk in a news release.
Police were able to get a ping from the spot beacon which lined up perfectly with findings from the helicopter in regards to the fresh avalanche near Skinny Ridge by Morton Lake.
Avalanche conditions were present during the search, and hang-fire from cornices and other areas of overhanging snow made this a real threat. Helicopters were being used to mitigate slides through the use of controlled explosives. Some of the workers were being turned around just as they reached the slide area and were beginning their search.
Shuswap Search and Rescue manager, John Schut reported at 11:30 AM, “It’s a big, bad scene up here” and “[helicopters] They need to do that [throw bombs] so it’s safe to work in that area”.
The victim was located via the use of his transceiver. His body was airlifted and the search ended. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.
Moral of this story- Always bring a buddy into the backcountry with you!