5 missing people rescued during stormy conditions in Strathcona Provincial Park

·2 min read
Comox Valley Search and Rescue helped five people trapped by winter storms get out of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island on Sunday.  (Dean Stoltz/Chek News  - image credit)
Comox Valley Search and Rescue helped five people trapped by winter storms get out of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island on Sunday. (Dean Stoltz/Chek News - image credit)

Five people reported missing during snow storms in Strathcona Provincial Park on central Vancouver Island this weekend were rescued Sunday.

Comox Valley Search and Rescue initially located three missing skiers shortly after noon. They later announced in a Tweet around 4 p.m. that they located a separate group of two people.

All five people and all rescue personnel are safely out of mountainous area and in good shape, according to the announcement.

The three male skiers were located in a backcountry cabin where they had stayed for two consecutive nights, according to search manager Paul Berry.

The group left Mount Washington Alpine Resort on Friday using split boards — a type of snowboard that can be separated into two parts and used like skis for climbing uphill with skins — and were expected to return on Saturday afternoon. A fourth skier, who separated from the group and made it out via a different route, reported them overdue Saturday night after they failed to return.

"They were located in a cabin at Divers Lake. They had hunkered down because of the conditions and were basically riding out the storm," said Berry.

Berry said they had enough water and food to last for the night. He said they did not have a cellphone with enough battery power to make contact with anyone. They also did not have a tent or sleeping bags.

"Had they not been able to get back to the cabin last night, they would have been in serious jeopardy."

A second search and rescue operation for the group of two people started Sunday morning after they activated their emergency locator beacon device in the Murray Meadows area of the park. Rescuers did not say whether the pair were skiing or snowshoeing, but said they became disoriented in the heavy snow.

The announcement of the second rescue Sunday afternoon came after blizzard conditions and extreme avalanche risks hindered rescue efforts.

"Anyone considering venturing out into the backcountry today, conditions on Vancouver Island are extreme and we would recommend do not venture out if they do not need to."

Berry said anyone heading into the backcountry at any time should prepare to be self-reliant for at least 24 hours if trapped by weather and also have a reliable communication device.

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