Thursday April 17, 2014

Out-of-bounds skier quickly found

Seventh skier to get into trouble in Sun Peaks back country in nine days

A vigilant Sun Peaks ski patrol made quick work of finding a lost out-of-bounds skier while monitoring the west bowl on Tuesday afternoon.

Just before 3 p.m., patrol became worried when they noticed tracks going under the boundary rope and heading west.

"Particularly on that side of the mountain that's unusual," said Christopher Nicolson, Sun Peaks Tourism president.

They followed the tracks into the backcountry as far as they could but weren't able to find the skier. So they reported the incident, triggering a Search and Rescue hunt.

At around the same time, a man reported that his son — a 24-year-old Ontario man — hadn't linked up with his family by noon as anticipated.

Search and Rescue called RCMP, which dispatched a helicopter and quickly found the missing skier in the back country.

The helicopter pilot found it challenging to find a good landing spot. The skier's retrieval and safe return to the village was expected by nightfall.

Nicolson was not immediately able to report on the man's condition.

He gave "kudos" to the patrol for their quick action but reminded skiers it doesn't mean they can be careless.

"We're obviously really concerned about our guests' safety," Nicolson said. "But I don't want to suggest that people going into the back country can rely on (ski patrols) — they shouldn't. If going into the back country they should be self-reliant."

It's the seventh skier to get into trouble in the Sun Peaks back country in nine days, which is "very unusual" for the resort, said Nicolson.

There's more snow at Sun Peaks than in many other areas, which could be a contributing factor, he said.

He added that Sun Peaks Resort may look at taking actions to address the increasing instances of missing out-of-bounds skiers.

"We're still in the height of our season so we'll think about boardroom meetings after the new year."

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