A missing skier on Shames Mountain was found safe after he lost his ski and was forced to spend a night in the backcountry.
On the night 2of Feb. 7, Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) were notified of the missing man after he did not return home and family members located his vehicle at the Shames Mountain parking lot.
“We were contacted that there was a car in the parking lot and that there were some family members up there looking for the subject,” says Terrace SAR vice-president Dave Jephson. “We advised the ski hill to tell the family to report to the RCMP and file a missing person, which helps activates our response.”
Working with Shames Mountain management and their co-op’s ski patrol, Terrace SAR grouped up 15 members to prepare for a search operation at first light the following morning Feb. 8.
Four members boarded a helicopter to fasten the search while others remained on the ground for support. A team remained in Terrace on stand-by.
In a Facebook post, Shames Mountain revealed that the missing skier was a 44-year-old Indigenous man, noted to be wearing a black jacket and said to be an advanced skier with backcountry experience. Jephson says this online notice resulted in tips from other skiers who reportedly saw the man within the last 24-hours that help narrow down their search field.
“[People noted that] they saw a person matching that description at this location so that helped our haystack get a little smaller,” explains Jephson.
“Two recognized travelers to the area in our ski community came across the subject. He had followed them and did a run with them, then went on his own. Based on that information, that helped lead us to a little bit more to the west so when the helicopter went down that way, they spotted him right away. “
The man was then quickly located within an hour of the search at approximately 10 a.m. when he was frantically started to wave after hearing the helicopter in the air. Crews brought him down to the Shames Mountain lodge where he was reported to be in stable condition and did not require a hospital visit.
Jephson says the skier had lost his ski, which had slid over a slope, and left him immobile in the backcountry with no means of self-rescue. The man had built a snow cave, packed enough food and kept warm to survive the night.