Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cross-Country Skiers Rescued in Bowman Lake Area

This morning's NPS Digest is providing more details on the two cross-country skiers that were rescued after an unplanned, overnight bivouac near Bowman Lake this past weekend.

Glacier National Park, the Flathead County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Team, and the Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance responded to and rescued two cross-country skiers who were lost and stranded overnight in the North Fork area of the park.

The married couple from Kalispell sent a 911 message using a SPOT messenger device, reporting that they were lost and stranded in the park. Flathead County dispatch received the message at approximately 8 p.m. on Saturday evening and determined that the message originated from a remote location approximately one mile north of the Akokala Creek Trail near Bowman Lake in the North Fork area of park (approximately six miles north of Polebridge). Park rangers were immediately notified and an incident team was organized.

Due to bad weather, downed trees, difficult trail conditions, darkness and overall unsafe conditions for ground or aerial searches, it was determined that a response would need to take place early Sunday morning. Operations resumed that day with rangers and members of the county’s rescue team snowshoeing and cross-country skiing toward their location. A helicopter joined them when weather conditions improved. The crew spotted tracks on the ground, landed briefly, and dropped off two crew members, who hiked a half mile to the couple’s location. They were treated at the scene and flown out. Rangers met them and transported them to the Polebridge Ranger Station. The couple then returned home.

It's a good thing the couple carried the SPOT messenger device with them. Moreover, based on local media reports, the couple was extremely conscientious about using the SOS device. In recent years, technology such as SPOT has been abused by people who aren't really in a search and rescue situation. There has been much controversy around people using the device out of convenience and putting SAR personnel in danger, not to mention the costs involved.


Jeff
Hiking in Glacier.com

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