Local police in the small town of Nelson, British Columbia were alerted one afternoon when two 16-year-old snowboarders failed to return home after a day on the slopes. The pair had been skiing in Whitewater Resort, a Canadian ski resort that prides itself on its powder snow. As 9 centimetres of snow fell during overnight, the boys built a shelter and a fire to stay warm.
Nelson Search and Rescue sent out ten volunteers to track the boys down, but were unable to locate them before nightfall. Unfortunately, it was snowing so hard that search and rescue teams had to wait the night before conducting a proper search and had to stay on the roads, where they flashed lights and sirens in hopes that the boys would hear them. The next morning search and rescue teams found the boys in a valley with the help of a helicopter, who airlifted them out and gave them medical assistance before sending them home. The teens had some frostnip, a less severe version of frostbite, but were otherwise unharmed.
Whitewater Ski Resort had received abundant snowfall in the weeks preceding the incident and avalanche risk was estimated at high. The teens had apparently lost their way and were unwittingly headed in the opposite direction from the ski resort. While they made an unwise choice in venturing off-piste during such snowy weather, everybody agreed the snowboarders had done the right thing by staying put and making a fire and shelter to stay warm. One of the boys happened to have some homework in his backpack - pretty dedicated for a 16-year-old on a Sunday! The pair was able to use it to help make a fire. Only experienced skiers and snowboarders with adequate avalanche survival skills, working avalanche safety equipment and knowledge of the area should venture off-piste. Avalanches can strike without warning and have killed even the most experienced skiers.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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