Having skied with his family in the resort on Saturday morning, he took off alone in the afternoon hoping to get a really quick backcountry lap in and as daylight fell, ended up losing his way.
“Part of it was my unfamiliarity with the general terrain that I was going into,” he said. “I ended up in the bottom of a gully, and crossing a snow bridge that collapsed. I ended up in 2-3 feet of water and basically got soaked.”
With temperatures in the 20s, he found himself alone in the Mount Baker Wilderness, a nearly 120,000-acre area. A storm was coming in, and he had few supplies. His cell phone had no signal.
“There was a couple times where I just felt like I just wasn’t going to have the energy to keep moving to maintain body temperature. It really felt like it could be it,” said Drulard.
Back at the Mount Baker Ski area, Dave’s wife had reported him missing. Search and rescue teams quickly went to work, but they did not have much information to guide them. It wasn’t until nearly 22 hours later that Drulard says a bit of luck intervened. The Bellingham Mountain Rescue Council happened to be training in the same part of the remote wilderness where Dave was desperate for help. He remembers the moment when he came face-to-face with the team.
“Just kind of like shock I think, just because I think it was probably, maybe, the first time that they rescued somebody that they didn’t mean to. I dont know,” he laughed.
Now back with his family, Drulard is asking how he let this happen. He says his own complacency is partly to blame. He realizes he made choices that fundamentally go against every safety precaution about the backcountry, and he nearly paid a big price for it.
Three people are missing and presumed dead this winter after they disappeared in the same general location near Heather Meadows.