Submitted by Barriere RCMP Detachment
On December 22, 2013, at 21:30 hours, Barriere RCMP received a report of four overdue snowmobilers on Harp Mountain north of Barriere.
After locating the area, and speaking with experienced people in the area, a search began for their vehicles. Shortly after 22:00 hours the two trucks were located at 16 km on the North Lake Forest Service Road.
There was no sign of movement around the trucks for quite some time so PEP (Provincial Emergency Planning) was contacted to have Search and Rescue (SAR) activated.
It was minus -3° degrees and snowing in the area, so fairly mild for this time of year.
Wells Grey SAR attended the scene with one local SAR member familiar with the area, and proceeded up into the area on four sleds.
Local RCMP were on scene from the start of the event for incident command. Corporal Underhill secured plans for the morning after consultation with the SAR manager.
A request for a second SAR team was made through ECC (Emergency Coordination Center) for daytime with an avalanche tech.
At first light confirmation was made that the second team was on route, and a request for RCMP helicopter Air 3 was made to assist and take up the avalanche tech and a local RCMP member.
Shortly after first light the first team returned from the mountain with negative results. The RCMP and SAR avalanche tech met RCMP Air 3 in Barriere, then left and began the search in the area, and checked on avalanche conditions to allow team two to attend unchecked areas.
Team two of SAR met with 10 volunteers who had signed up to assist in the search.
The air team cleared attendance of the ground crew who where ready to head out. Just as the first crew was to leave, the four missing males made contact with a family member via cell phone from the top of the mountain which was relayed to the command site.
The four said they had become stuck the night before, and when it became dark they decided to spend the night in the bush.
The four dug in, cut firewood and stayed warm and dry under a lean-to shelter for the night, then headed out in the morning.
All teams were stood down with confirmation of this, but remained on scene to ensure all were medically okay.
At noon the four males emerged from the trail on their sleds with no injuries and in good spirits. All crews were released from scene and were extremely happy with the outcome.
This was a fantastic outcome that had obvious concerns with all four missing overnight,” said Cpl. Underhill, “A great job by all SAR members, and incredible response from the volunteers and some family who attended, as well as others who drove by or were coming up for the day and dropped everything to help out. Thank you to all of them!”