8 days and 5 very difficult and gruelling calls to the same area, on the same mountain, despite clear snow fencing, signage and media attention given to the risks of going out-of-bounds. I am going to start out this post by saying that SAR crews are becoming frustrated. Going out-of-bounds puts yourself and others unnecessarily at risk.
Last night was number 5, and it was for a male and female snowboarder who ducked the rope, heading into the Montizambert drainage area. As demonstrated in the picture below, they went quite far before calling for help when they became stranded and lost.
Although the call was received in daylight, with enough time to scramble the SAR helicopter, by the time flight crews spotted the subjects in steep mountain terrain, it was after sunset and the aircraft had to return to base. Ground teams were deployed shortly after aircrews spotted the subjects and noted their GPS coordinates.
After several hours of difficult travel, field teams arrived at the subjects. With no medical concerns, the subjects were rewarmed with hot fluids, given food and escorted back to the ski area. This is not nice terrain to work in, and it is definitely not nice terrain to ski in.
This is a plea to the public, DO NOT go out-of-bounds. Share this with everyone you know who skis or boards. The rope lines are there for a reason. Stay inbounds unless you are equipped for backcountry travel, have checked the avi forecast, and are not accessing the backcountry through closed terrain.
Remember, going out-of-bounds by ducking a rope line is to be differentiated from going into the backcountry with the right gear, preparation, and training. We all take risks in our day to day lives, and that is what emergency services are there for, but taking conscious “unnecessary” risks are not worth it.
When I say “unnecessary,” I mean taking risks without ANY risk mitigation, as is the case in these situations. A lot of good can come out of manageable risk and in fact it can contribute to what makes backcountry recreation so exhilarating. Ducking a rope line at a resort is a bad choice. Please think twice the next time you go to a local ski hill for a couple hours of skiing or boarding.
It is North Shore Rescues’ and all other SAR teams unanimous and strongly held position that we are not in favour of charging for rescue.