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Two stranded skiers rescued from Lost Boys

Two skiers traveled out of bounds from the Fernie Alpine Resort last Thursday in the Lost Boys area, becoming stranded and requiring help.

On the morning of March 11, Fernie Search and Rescue got the call that the skiers were missing, and 12 members immediately set out to find them.

The two skiers were found in the Lost Boys area, which leads to Sand Creek and eventually to Galloway.

From the top of the timber chair, an individual could hike up and over the western peak and venture into the vast, open backcountry. However, this area is known as Lost Boys, and rightly so, as the only way to return is to hike back up the way you came.

“It’s called Lost Boys because people did get lost there in the past, more frequently,” said Scott Robinson, search manager with Fernie Search and Rescue. “But this is probably our first call in that area for three or four years now.”

A helicopter team went in to assess the area and the terrain for avalanche risk. The crew managed to spot some ski tracks, heading in what seemed to be the wrong direction. After following the tracks, the crew found the two missing subjects at the end of them.

“They weren’t actually that far from the ski hill,” said Robinson. “They’d been going around in circles for two days... But due to the number of channels and peaks, they couldn’t see the ski hill.”

On Saturday, the two heard the train in the valley, and started to make a plan on how to get out.

“Had we not found them, they would have probably made their own way out by probably Sunday,” said Robinson.

The two males, both aged in their mid-30s, did not sustain any injuries, besides being cold and hungry.

Surviving two nights in the snow was partially thanks to their survival skills. With some food leftover from what they imagined would be a day trip, the two rationed this, and proceeded to make snow caves which would allow them to sleep out of the wind.

After leaving Saturday, it took the rescue team about two hours to find the stranded skiers.

“We’re not going to stop people from going out of bounds, if you have the experience in that kind of terrain; there’s a lot of people in Fernie who frequently go into the backcountry,” said Robinson. “I think the single biggest lesson that came out of this task, was communication. They hadn’t realized there was no cell coverage where they were... Had they had a satellite beacon, then they could have notified the authorities they were in trouble much sooner.”

This was Fernie Search and Rescue’s third rescue in 2017.

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