Rescue society praises B.C.'s teen's survival skills after he got lost snowmobiling

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100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. — A teen who became lost while on a family snowmobile outing in a remote British Columbia mountain wilderness is being praised for using his backcountry survival skills.

The 17-year-old did everything right when things went wrong, including parking his snowmobile in an open area where it could be easily spotted by searchers and building himself a snow cave for shelter, said Val Severin, a team leader with the South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society.

"He displayed some real mature choices there," she said Monday in an interview. "He had separated from his group and no one saw he dropped down into a really steep section."

The teen, who has not been named, was riding in a designated snowmobile recreation zone known as Mica Mountain when he got lost, Severin said.

Mica Mountain is located more than 100 kilometres east of 100 Mile House on the western border of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

"The terrain that he was in is lots of creeks and tree wells, all those things we've seen in recent weeks where folks have actually lost their lives," Severin said. "The fact that he stayed put and kept himself safe and warm, absolutely, the best choice he could have made."

His actions likely also shortened the time searchers spent looking for the youth, who was lost in an area known for dramatic shifts in weather conditions, she said.

The RCMP and search and rescue team received calls for help Saturday around the dinner hour and a search team reported finding the teenager at about 10:30 that night.

"He was nestled in the snow cave all comfortable and warm with food and water," Severin said. "From there, he joined our team and we escorted him on a different route off the mountain because the terrain he had come down was so steep and you are not able to snowmobile back up in the direction that he came from."

The youth was emotional when the rescue crew arrived, she said.

"He was very, very thankful," Severin said. "You could tell he was overwhelmed."

She said the teen's mother has called the society numerous times to thank everybody for their efforts. The family said it plans to make a donation to the non-profit society, said Severin, a volunteer who is a funeral director in 100 Mile House.

Last week's death of a 21-year-old snowshoer in Vancouver-area mountains prompted the RCMP to urge those visiting the wilderness to be prepared with necessary gear and knowledge of local conditions.

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press