Two rescue missions near Pemberton over the past day reveal the hazards that exist in the region and the need to take precautions.
The Sea to Sky RCMP Detachment stated today (December 29) that Pemberton Search and Rescue conducted two rescue missions within 24 hours.
In the first case, Pemberton RCMP received a call from an international emergency centre around 3:15 p.m. on December 28 after they received a notification from an emergency activation device near Cerise Creek Trail Head in Pemberton, where an individual had activated his distress beacon after being injured.
Pemberton Search and Rescue were able to locate him and transported him to health services.
Tragically, however, a second mission became a recovery effort.
Pemberton RCMP received notification around 5:22 p.m. on December 28 that two snowbikers had gone missing near Goat Creek in Pemberton.
Backcountry guides reported that there were indications that an avalanche had been triggered along the side of the Goat Peak. The guides told police that the avalanche debris area was about 100 metres wide by 200 metres long.
Avalanche Canada stated that at least four large avalanches took place in mountains near Whistler and Pemberton on December 28. Three out of four of them involved people and were triggered by human activity.
The guides hadn’t been able to locate any active beacons in the area and, due to the terrain and the darkness, they also hadn’t been able to determine if the snow bikes had reached the other side of the debris area.
Around 8:30 a.m. today, Pemberton Search and Rescue, Blackcomb Helicopters, and an RCMP K9 unit began searching for the missing snow bikers.
Search crews first located parts of the snow bikes in the debris filed and then located a signal during a beacon search of the area.
Around 10 a.m., two deceased males were located in the debris field.
The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating their deaths and Pemberton RCMP are not releasing the identities of the individuals.
“The Pemberton and Whistler RCMP would like to remind others thinking of heading to similar areas to carry proper equipment, be aware of local conditions and avalanche risk, and ensure someone is aware of the their location and plan,” the Sea to Sky RCMP detachment stated in a news release.
Today, Avalanche Canada stated that for the South Coast region, a storm is expected to bring up to 50 centimetres of new snow by tomorrow evening (December 30). Avalanche risk is rated as considerable below the treeline, and high above the treeline. Avalanche Canada is advising people to avoid avalanche terrain as a widespread avalanche cycle is anticipated.