A snowboarder was rescued on Sunday morning after spending two cold and snowy nights lost on Whistler Mountain, BC.
The 32-year-old former soldier was visiting from Singapore. He was reported missing by his friend when he failed to meet up as planned on Friday afternoon.
“His last known position was the top of Whistler’s peak—we figured he was on the south side, and we sent a ski-touring party into Cheakamus.”
– Whistler Search and Rescue President Brad Sills
When the initial search party failed to locate the man, North Shore Rescue used their night-vision-equipped helicopter to assist. After two unsuccessful passes, weather brought the search to a halt.
Comox-based 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron and their CH-149 Cormorant aircraft were next to assist. Their long-range helicopter can operate in severe conditions. However, they too were unable to locate the missing man.
During the two day search Whistler experienced lows of 11ºF, causing concern amongst rescue teams. On Sunday morning, after a 40-hour search involving 30-40 volunteers, two helicopters saw the tip of a snowboard in a creek bed. Beside it was the missing man, sat waiting.
“We had a big turnout [of volunteers], everybody wanted to make one last valiant attempt at it—the weather had cleared, and it was a nice day. I have to say, most people were preparing themselves for the worst, especially when we saw him from the helicopter… and he wasn’t moving.”
– Brad Sills
The man was ‘well into the hypothermic spectrum’, his core temperature was less than 29ºC, and he was suffering frostbite and a head injury. Calling on his military training, the man managed to dig a snowpit to shelter himself from the elements.
The man explained that he got lost after following two skiers off the backsideof Whistler’s peak.
SIlls went on to say that there is a learning opportunity for all of us: always carry extra clothing and a flashlight with you on the mountain.