A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

UPDATE: Both sledders were found safely by the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 23.

When Colin Jalbert bought a used snowmobile last week, the original owner threw in a shovel.

Just a few days later, the Prince George resident was desperately using that shovel to dig out his sled on Yanks Peak near Wells.

Jalbert was among a group of 20 riders from Prince George who arrived at the mountain around 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 22. When they reached the top of the mountain, Jalbert lost control of his sled and was separated from the group. Another member of the group, Mike Harbak, was also separated and remains missing. Wells RCMP, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake Search and Rescue crews and the Wells Snowmobile Club are still searching for Harbak today.

READ MORE: Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

“I just went for a little rip, hit a drift and my handlebars were loose so when I landed I couldn’t hold my line and ended up having to follow another trail that led into the trees,” said Jalbert, who added it was his first time mountain riding. “As a new mountain rider, I got way in over my head. It bottle-necked uphill between some tree, I hesitated for a second and got stuck in a really s***** spot.”

Jalbert could hear his group’s sleds in the distance, but terrifyingly, they couldn’t hear his screaming or whistles. He had a beacon, avalanche pack, and some basic survival gear, but wishes he had brought a radio.

“I could hear them going by in the distance but they couldn’t hear me over the sleds,” he said. “I used my whistle and screamed but nothing [happened] so I just kept digging. I was determined to get the hell outta there.”

Although Jalbert had spent a lot of time riding before, it was always on groomed trails and rivers in Ontario. He wasn’t prepared for getting buried in five feet of snow.

“I literally had to dig all around my sled to get it turned around and make a path to get out and back on top of the snow and by then it was 4 p.m.,” he said. “I shovelled for I think four to five hours non-stop. Worse come to worst I was going to make a shelter and start a fire.”

After digging a 100-square-foot hole to extract the snowmobile, an exhausted Jalbert made the trek back to his truck.

“It was getting dark and starting to snow. Not gonna lie, I was scared and I was soaked from sweating,” he said. “I feel horrible for leaving someone out there but with my level of experience there would have been both of us stuck out there.”

Jalbert said it was a tough way to learn that snowmobiling in the mountains takes different skills than normal riding and mastering slopes and terrain can be tricky.

“Mountain riding isn’t as easy as it looks and I got a reality check really quickly on how fast things can go sideways. [It’s] not to be taken lightly,” he said. “I could be the one still out there.”

READ MORE: Large attendance for avalanche awareness seminar a good sign of shift in back-country culture

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

That’s Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19, 2021 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
First Houston vaccinations take place

Long term care residents, health care workers on list

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary. (Houston Today photo)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary School

Self-monitoring for symptoms encouraged

Silverthorne Elementary School
Students staying at home would not receive special treatment

Know that our schools are safe and clean. We are very diligent in our COVID protocols.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read