Fernie SAR rescues mountain bikers
On the evening of June 25, Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was tasked by Elk Valley RCMP to undertake a search for two lost mountain bikers on or near the high alpine trail – Porky Blue.
Two women had become disoriented in the upper terrain leading to the trailhead, due to last summer’s extensive logging of this area. Fortunately, there was just sufficient daylight to get a helicopter (along with two SAR members) to do a sweep of the upper reaches of the trail.
The women had wisely started a small signal/warming fire, which was spotted by the SAR team. A SAR member was dropped off nearby as no suitable landing zones were possible closer to the stranded riders. With dwindling daylight the helicopter was forced to return to base.
Three ground teams also en route using ATVs proceeded to the subjects’ location, with hopes of a relatively easy extraction and transport down the mountain. Unfortunately, the late season deep snowpack, along with logging activity, made navigation at night and forward progress impossible and the ground teams had to abandon their attempt to reach the subjects and returned to base.
At first light the following morning, a helicopter was dispatched to retrieve the uninjured subjects and SAR member who had spent the night out in good weather.
While most of the riding/hiking trails receive regular use, upper alpine trails are less often used and trail conditions are often unknown, with winter blowdown of trees and often avalanche debris making navigation next to impossible.
If embarking on such a trip, it would be advisable to check with local knowledge before finding yourself in a difficult spot.