21-year-old Oliver Smith just spent two nights lost in the Mt. Baker backcountry after leaving the northern boundaries of Mt. Baker ski area. It’s snowed 21″ while he was out there.
Oliver was riding with a friend when they tried a new trail and Oliver ended up skidding down a slope into the backcountry. He continued downhill and ended up in a creek drainage. This was on Friday, January 29th, 2016.
“I got to the creek and I just figured if I follow the creek downstream it’ll eventually lead me to a road or somewhere where I’ll see a person or something.” – Oliver Smith told King 5
Oliver’s partner returned to the parking lot and waited for Oliver to come to his car, but he never came.
Search and rescue crews received report of the missing snowboarder at 4:30pm on Friday. Crews searched for Oliver until 11pm Friday night when 14″ of snowfall fell.
Oliver created makeshift shelters from tree branches and his snowboard to survive the very cold nights. He drank creek water and had no food nor phone nor backcountry/avalanche gear.
Search and rescue crews searched for Oliver all day on Saturday to no avail. Another 7″ of snow fell that day.
“It really started to get to me the second night when it was getting dark out. At that point I was like, man, I don’t even know where I am, I don’t know if anyone’s going to find me or anything.” – Oliver told King 5
Search and rescue found ootprints were found in the snow around 10am on Sunday in the White Salmon Creek valley. They followed these footprints for 30 minutes until they found Oliver. Oliver was wet, cold, and likely had some hypothermia, but was generally in good condition.
The main point here is to stay in bounds unless you’re full prepared to go out of bounds. Regardless, Oliver did a good job of staying alive and keeping warm in very challenging conditions through 2 nights and 21″ of snowfall. Solid work, Oli.
“He’s a very fortunate young man,” – Chief Criminal Deputy Doug Chadwick of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office