This past weekend, a skier traversing the terrain of Decker Mountain survived what could have potentially been a disastrous situation. Seattle resident, Nikolai Popov was skiing across a wide-open area in the remote backcountry of British Columbia, when he came across a small crack in the terrain’s surface. As he approached closer, that crack suddenly began to expand. Before Popov realized what was happening, the surface collapsed, and he found himself tumbling over 160 feet into a crevice.
Fortunately, there was another skier traversing ahead that noticed that Popov had disappeared below the snowy surface. Neither men had cell phones or any type of communication equipment, so it was up to the skier to seek out rescue services.
It took approximately 2 hours for the skier to reach help and for the rescue team to assemble. The Whistler Search and Rescue headed by Daren Romano loaded up a helicopter and rushed to the scene. They landed the craft at a safe distance away to prevent any further collapse, and carefully hiked to where the skier was last seen. Using a rope and pulley system, the rescue team successfully hoisted Nikolai Popov out of the crevice. The skier was completely unscathed by the fall, and temperatures were warm enough to avoid incurring any detriments from the cold.
While this incident saw a happy ending, it is yet another reminder to the dangers of the backcountry. Skiers and snowboarders that seek out these remote mountain locations must ensure they are equipped with proper safety gear. Both skiers should have had helmets, transceivers – and at the very least, a cell phone! When thinking about this situation in retrospect, it would have been smart to also bring tools for self-rescue, including ropes and a pickaxe.