Search and rescue team gets a cold lesson on winter camp-out

Nine search-and-rescue volunteers woke up with all their ninety toes after a recent winter camp.

After a cold night camped out in hand-built winter shelters

Nine search-and-rescue volunteers woke up with all their ninety toes after a recent winter camp.

Building a winter shelter is a key test for new recruits on Houston’s search and rescue team, says coordinator Frank McDonald, and a challenge they all look forward to.

When they set out March 23 to a high point about 30 km down Equity Mine Road, the group expected lows between -10 C and -15 C. Everyone carried food, a shovel, and fire-starting gear—the sort of set-up snowmobilers or skiers might have if they got lost.

McDonald said  everyone camped 50 to 100 metres apart and dug in for the night in different ways. Some shovelled out tree wells and threw tarps over top. Others built lean-to’s by a fire.

“Most of them realized the energy spent maintaining a fire overnight meant more energy was wasted than crawling into a sleeping bag and hopefully staying warm,” he said.

One person built a snow cave, a shelter McDonald says requires too much forethought and time to use in a real emergency, noting that it can take hours for the snow mounds to settle.

For new recruit Tim Van Leeuwen, the March 23 test was his first winter camp-out.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said, adding that next time he’ll do at least one thing differently—bring a wider shovel.

When the sun rose on the cold campers, McDonald said they found the best warm-up was to simply get up and stomp around.

With blood flowing again, they started on compass drills (difficult when you need to pace your steps in snowshoes) and an avalanche rescue.

For the rescue, McDonald buried a dummy with a beacon stuck on “send.” The team honed in and dug it out using beacons and probes.

McDonald says beacons are easy for anyone to use, but it’s worth trying one out before an emergency.

“They come with directions, but the best thing to do is practice,” he said. “I’ve done it in my backyard—get someone to hide a beacon and go out and try to find it.”

 

Just Posted

Gilmore Lake Fire burning near Topley

Evacuation alert and order in effect

Gilmore Lake fire 100 per cent contained

The Gilmore Lake Fire, located eight km southwest of Topley, was estimated… Continue reading

Wildfires showing “aggressive behaviour”

Over the weekend the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) expanded the evacuation… Continue reading

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Ontario will sell pot online when legalization comes in the fall

There are further plans to have pot in private retail stores in early 2019

Woman missing after car swept away by mudslide near Cache Creek

A search is now underway for Valerie Morris, who has been missing since the afternoon of August 11.

Most Read