A skier is lucky to be alive thanks to the actions of a couple Alberta, Canada ski patrollers who came to his rescue after getting caught in an avalanche while skiing in an out-of-bounds area.
The CBC reports man ended up an zone that had cell service (rare in that area) and was able to call 911 for help. The call was answered by two ski patrollers who located the man, built a snow shelter and hunkered down for the night on the side of the mountain.
The incident happened Friday afternoon while the man was skiing outside the boundaries of Castle Mountain Resort:
“We were made aware that a guest was in distress. They had managed to call 911, so they were very, very fortunate to have cell phone service because that’s not common here in the Castle Provincial Park and at our resort.” –Cole Fawcett Castle Mountain Resort Sales & Marketing Manager
Responders Amanda Goodhue and Madeline Martin hiked two hours in steep rocky terrain up the mountain to the man’s location. They estimated the man had fallen about 250 meters with the avalanche. He was in stable condition but this injuries prohibited transport back down the mountain. It was dark when the patrollers arrived making a helicopter airlift out of the option until the morning.
“We initially dug ourselves a shelter and built a tarp shelter for our patient, we prioritized that, and just got him sort of comfortable … out of the snow and as warm as possible with the items we had at the time. There’s just so many things going through your head that it’s pretty hard to go to sleep, but we did stay warm, so that was great.” –Amanda Goodhue
A second crew hiked up arriving around 1 a.m. with additional supplies and warm clothing to make it through the night. Around 9 a.m. Saturday, a helicopter arrived and the man was long-lined off the mountain.
Cpl. Marty Reed with Pincher Creek RCMP believes if the man hadn’t had cell coverage he would have been a goner:
“In my estimate, another 200 feet lower, he wouldn’t have had cell service. That would have been blocked by an adjacent mountain.” -Cpl Reed
The victim was a man in his late 30s from Nelson, B.C. He had injuries to his back, neck and legs. He was transported to a hospital in stable condition with injuries related to being caught in the avalanche and cold exposure. The RCMP did not provide the man’s name.