The two missing men were found safe in a valley on Sterling Mountain after being spotted by a SAR team in a helicopter at approximately 9:33 a.m. on Feb. 9. (Facebook Photo)

The two missing men were found safe in a valley on Sterling Mountain after being spotted by a SAR team in a helicopter at approximately 9:33 a.m. on Feb. 9. (Facebook Photo)

Two missing snowmobilers found safe on Sterling Mountain near Terrace

SAR located them the following morning who used fuel to start fire, keep warm overnight

Two snowmobilers have been rescued after surviving a night on Sterling Mountain north of Terrace over the weekend.

On Saturday, Feb. 8 at approximately 8 p.m., Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) received a call that two local men had not returned from their day’s activity which led to a search operation the following morning.

“The guys up there weren’t planning to spend the night and they should have been back home but when they didn’t, [their family] drove up and confirmed the truck was still there,” says Terrace SAR vice-president Dave Jephson.

“So they knew they were stuck in the backcountry and we were contacted, but we can’t respond in the middle of the night to the snowmobile area and we had to come up with a plan for the next morning.”

The next day Feb. 9 at approximately 8:30 a.m., about 15 Terrace SAR members converged on Sterling Mountain’s trailhead to begin the search, equipped with two SAR rhino vehicles, a mobile command vehicle and some personal vehicles, along with a team of four scouting the site below from above in a helicopter.

Before embarking on their mission, though, SAR members processed a hazard assessment which involves an avalanche technician to ensure their safety in the backcountry.

“We knew that the subjects checked into the first cabin but did not check into the second cabin so that gave us a working area,” Jephson says. “A couple of the first thoughts were that they were up on the rows, which they weren’t, so they worked their way over to another high probability area and flew down into the valley.”

READ MORE: Terrace SAR, military coordinate joint late-night backcountry rescue

Jephson says the team at the trailhead was set up to monitor access to the area as many snowmobilers were showing up to help with the search. Eventually, the plan was to set up a rescue base at the first cabin on the mountain if the search intensified and needed to expand. A team in Terrace was also on stand-by in case more volunteers were needed.

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., the two men were located by the helicopter crew in a gully. Jephson says the air team was familiar with the mountain and quickly spotted two snowmobiles tucked under the trees.

They learned that the two men had built an overnight shelter to survive the conditions and kept warm using the fuel from their snowmobiles.

“One of their machines broke down and wasn’t running properly so they made that decision to stay. They weren’t 100 per cent familiar with the area, such as how far the cabins and trails were, plus it was getting late and dark,” says Jephson. “They had some provisions with them so they got down into a tree well, made a little shelter, had a fire, ate some food and spent the night.”

He adds the snowmobilers made the right decision to stay in one location and he applauds them for having their survival tools with them. If they had not been rescued that morning, the two men were apparently ready to start sending smoke signals.

They were then picked up by the helicopter and brought down to the mountain base but did not require hospitalization. The snowmobiles had to be left behind but Jephson says the men are working with another helicopter company to retrieve their machines.

This SAR operation was one of three missions over the weekend – the other two included locating a missing skier on Shames Mountain and three missing hikers on Mount Hayes near Prince Rupert.

All operations ended positively, the rescued skier and hikers in good health when they were found.

READ MORE: Missing skier found on Shames Mountain near Terrace after losing ski, spending night in backcountry

Jephson says that although he’s glad to see people enjoying the outdoors, he emphasizes to the public how important it is to be prepared in case of an emergency situation that requires overnight survival, adding that they should also inform someone of their plans and leave a visible note in their vehicle on when they plan to return.

The two snowmobilers were later identified as plumbers from Acadia Northwest Mechanical, which publicly posted on Facebook to thank SAR for their employees’ rescue. Alongside their gratitude, they’re encouraging people to come out for a fundraiser organized by the Skeena Valley Snowmobile Association that will be coincidentally held at Sterling Mountain on Sunday, Feb. 16 to help raise money for SAR’s new headquarters.

The public is invited to attend the event, which will begin at 9 a.m. and then followed by a BBQ at the first cabin at noon, along with a 50/50 draw. Donations can be made at the Sterling Mountain trailhead parking lot that day, at Ken’s Marine or given directly to SAR.


 


natalia@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Search and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

A housing location for workers on the new Mills Memorial Hospital construction project has been approved by city council. (File photo)
Camp spot proposed for hospital construction workers

As many as 350 outside workers may be needed

Terrace city council are reaching out to the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson regarding councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller’s resignation on Feb. 22, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
City of Terrace seeking ombudsperson investigation into allegations of systemic racism

Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller resigned Feb. 22, citing racism

A large provincial grant will make cycling and walking safer in Terrace. (File photo)
Large grant to make walking, cycling safer in Terrace

Pathway will connect old Skeena Bridge to the downtown

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read