Search and Rescue crews worked together to find a missing skier in near Rossland, with members from the East and West Kootenay aiding in the search, including Kimberley and Cranbrook.
Crews worked for three days to find Mark Gayowski in the area’s backcountry through adverse weather conditions.
“We had a storm cycle that came through our area, both the East and West Kootenays. That storm cycle caused some low cloud and valley fog to settle around Red Mountain,” said Peter Reid, a Search Manager with Kimberley Search and Rescue. “It’s been a low snow year this year, and as a result, there’s a lot of alders, making foot travel very slow and difficult. Combined with that, we weren’t able to fly a helicopter for most of the search.”
Kimberley Search and Rescue said that members had to work through heavy snowfall, cold weather and freezing rain among other challenging conditions.
Reid added that crews had to use ground search methods to locate Gayowski.
Around 90 crew members were involved in the search with help from Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, Kaslo, Grand Forks, Kimberly and Cranbrook Search and Rescue teams.
According to Reid, the low amounts of snow made their efforts more difficult.
“There were open creeks, which meant jumping through creek beds in water instead of snow or ice. They had to crawl over and under a lot of trees in the area. It’s a very thick, forested area,” explained Reid. “They travelled one kilometre in about eight hours, and these are fit guys.”
Search and Rescue teams said the search concluded when crews found Gayowski in good health, and crews airlifted him to safety for precautionary medical treatment.
“We got a little bit of a weather window where we were doing some avalanche assessment and while we were preparing for that, one of the ground teams located the subject by voice,” Reid said to MyEastKootenayNow.com. “We were able to fly in, pick him up, then fly out. It was a very good outcome.”
Reid concluded by offering advice to anyone planning a trip in the outdoors, urging travellers to take the essentials and let others know about the planned outing.