On Dec. 22, at 9:30 p.m., Barriere RCMP received a report of four overdue snowmobilers on Harp Mountain northeast of Barriere.
After speaking with experienced people, a search began for the snowmobilers’ vehicles. Shortly after 10 p.m. the two trucks were located at 16 km on the North Lake Forest Service Road.
There had been no movement around the trucks for some time so PEP (Provincial Emergency Planning) was contacted to have Search and Rescue (SAR) activated.
It was -3° C degrees and snowing in the area – fairly mild for this time of year.
Wells Grey SAR attended the scene with one Barriere SAR member familiar with the area, and proceeded up into the area on four sleds.
Local RCMP were on scene from the start of the event for incident command. Corporal Underhill secured plans for the morning after consultation with the SAR manager.
A request for a second SAR team was made through ECC (Emergency Coordination Center) for daytime with an avalanche tech.
At first light, with the second team en route, a request for RCMP helicopter Air 3 was made to assist and to take up the avalanche tech and a local RCMP member.
Shortly after first light the first team returned from the mountain with negative results. The RCMP and a SAR avalanche tech met RCMP Air 3 in Barriere. It then began the search in the area, and checked on avalanche conditions to allow Team 2 to go to unchecked areas.
Team 2 of SAR met with 10 volunteers who had signed up to assist in the search.
The air team cleared attendance of the ground crew who were ready to head out. Just as the first crew was to leave, the four missing males made contact with a family member via cell phone from the top of the mountain, which was relayed to the command site.
The four said they had become stuck the night before, and when it became dark they decided to spend the night in the bush.
The four dug in, cut firewood and stayed warm and dry under a lean-to shelter for the night, then headed out in the morning.
All teams were stood down with confirmation of this, but remained on scene.
At noon the four males emerged from the trail on their sleds with no injuries and in good spirits.
“A great job by all SAR members, and an incredible response from the volunteers and the family members who attended,” said Cpl. Underhill.