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‘Stay safe’: Message from Columbia Valley Search and Rescue after busy start to March

It’s been a busy March for a search and rescue organization in B.C.’s Kootenay region.

On its Facebook page, Columbia Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) posted three incidents, with one callout being for an ice climber who died after falling 30 feet last week.

The climber fell near the Gibraltar ice climbs on Kootenay Forest Service Road on March 9, with search and rescue saying it began rescue efforts but was stood down prior to arriving on scene.

Read more:

‘Textbook operation’: COSAR rescues snowmobiler in Graystokes Provincial Park

“Columbia Valley RCMP explained that the ice climber died after falling approximately 30 feet,” said CVSAR, a nonprofit organization which services the Invermere area. “The climber’s friend and a worksite ambulance conducted life-saving measures until emergency health services could arrive.

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“Our hearts are with the family and friends of the deceased and those involved in the incident. This has been a difficult month for the local outdoor community. Stay safe this spring.”

Columbia Valley Search and Rescue

CVSAR also issued two posts on a pair of snowmobile rescues, with both happening last weekend, March 10-11.

“Both incidents occurred in the Forster area on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, respectively,” said search and rescue.

“CVSAR members responded, stabilized and transported the subjects to Invermere airport where they were handed over to B.C. Emergency Health Services.”

It also said “big thanks to the assistance from our friends and partners at RK Heliski and Coldstream Helicopters.”

Dangerous avalanche conditions could hinder rescue efforts

And on March 1, it was also called out to assist police for an avalanche near Panorama.

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In total, 10 heli-skiers were caught in that avalanche, with three German tourists being killed.

In the Okanagan, Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) says it took 16 members and two people from nearby snowmobile clubs to rescue a snowmobiler who got separated from his party, then got stuck on March 3.

“Our sledder did many things right,” said VSAR, adding he activated his iPhone’s SOS capability, along with his SPOT device.

“He has survival equipment, has built a shelter in the form of a snow cave and was in the process of trying to start a fire when we arrived.”

Click to play video: '3 German tourists killed, 4 people injured in avalanche near Invermere, B.C.'

3 German tourists killed, 4 people injured in avalanche near Invermere, B.C.

VSAR continued, saying “we would like to remind everyone that with the current conditions it is important that we put in extra planning to ensure everyone comes home safely. The safety of our members is our top priority. This may mean that our response is delayed several hours or that we are only able to respond in daylight hours.”

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Elsewhere, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue came to the aid of a snowmobiler who was injured in Graystokes Provincial Park on March 13.

“The sledders did everything right. They had an InReach, fire starter, warm clothes and snacks. It made the wait that much more comfortable for their friend,” said search manager Kevin Birnie.

“These are part of the 10 essentials Adventure Smart advocates for.”

For more about B.C. Search and Rescue, which features 78 groups across the province and 3,400 volunteers, visit the organization’s website.

Click to play video: 'BASE jumper rescued from Stawamus Chief after parachute gets snagged'

BASE jumper rescued from Stawamus Chief after parachute gets snagged

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