'Heroes' rescue lost skier

A Kelowna man has reached out to thank the volunteers who saved his life earlier this month after he became lost in the Big White backcountry.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue crews were called out to the backside of Big White's Gem Lake chair on Feb. 13 after friends reported a man missing at about 7:30 p.m.

Using snowmobiles, and then backcountry skis when the trees became too tight, COSAR members Amos and T ventured into the – 20 C night and found the skier's tracks.

As they followed the tracks, another team, Brian, Brad and Angela, along with three members of the Kelowna Snowmobile Club, set up containment below so the skier couldn't head deeper into the woods.

Following the tracks, Amos and T found the lost skier at about 2 a.m., made a fire, and “hunkered down” for the night, waiting for sunrise.

In a post on COSAR's Facebook page, the lost skier says before T and Amos showed up, he was “coming to terms with the fact that I might not be getting out of there alive.”

“It was a beautiful, clear, starry night with a brilliantly bright half-moon,” he wrote. “Not a bad place to go, I thought.

“I can't begin to describe the relief I felt when, around midnight, I saw two headlamps come bobbing towards me through the forest and then two absolute heroes, T and Amos from Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, came into my clearing and one of them said, 'we heard you might want someone to hang out with.'”

T and Amos made sure the man was uninjured and helped warm him up, and the three stayed by the fire until a helicopter was able to pick them up at first light on Valentine's Day.

“I have a debt to these amazing people, who receive no payment for this work they do, that I will never be able to repay,” wrote the man, who acknowledged it was “pretty stupid” to be skiing alone in the backcountry.

COSAR wrote they hope sharing the story will help save lives in the future. 

Search and Rescue organizations are made up entirely of volunteers. As COSAR member Amos told the rescued skier: “We just want people to get home safe.”

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