A helicopter made its way through the clouds to rescue a stranded snowmobiler on Yanks Peak. (Facebook Video Screenshot)

A helicopter made its way through the clouds to rescue a stranded snowmobiler on Yanks Peak. (Facebook Video Screenshot)

Quesnel Search and Rescue praises public help in latest search

Gerald Schut said the public didn’t disturb the search area until given direction from SAR teams

When a sledder on Yanks Peak near Wells didn’t make it back from a planned trip, Quesnel Search and Rescue (QSAR) began preparing to search for the missing man.

Gerald Schut is a search manager with QSAR. He said they were called around 9 p.m. on Nov. 22, after the rider’s friends called the RCMP.

Search and rescue crews from Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake all took to the mountain to search for the rider, Mike Harbak, the next day, assisted by sledders from the Wells Snowmobile Club.

“We knew the fellow … wasn’t in danger of dying at that time — if it was 40 below, we would have acted a lot quicker,” Schut said. “Because of certain criteria, we will not roll until it is safe to do so.”

After spending the night planning how the groups would search, Schut made the trip out to near Yanks Peak to ensure the search area stayed undisturbed by other snowmobiles.

Schut said while there were a lot of people heading into the area, it was Harbak’s friends and members of the snowmobile club wanting to assist the search.

“They were more than willing to wait until we had our people down from Prince George to give them direction,” he said. “That was the best thing they could possibly do for us. We’ve had times where family members or the general public goes running into the bush looking for a lost person, and they just mess everything up.”

Search and rescue crews on the ground had use of a helicopter, which Schut said saved hours off the search for Harbak.

READ MORE: Search and rescue crews locate missing sledder near Wells

“For the whole duration, [the helicopter] could not see the top of Yanks Peak — it was fogged in,” Schut said. “The helicopter managed to find a hole in the clouds and flew in and spotted him after a few tries.”

The search was headed up by Prince George Search and Rescue, as the Quesnel group does not have a snowmobile team.

“We’ve lost our snowmobile team that we’ve had for years; it’s just sort of dwindled away,” Schut said. “We’d like to get it back up and running again.”

Schut said Harbak did exactly what missing people should do in this situation — stay put and focus on staying safe and warm.

It’s even the focus of a national campaign aimed a young children to “Hug a Tree” if they are lost in the wilderness.

“We will find you, don’t try to find us, and that’s what this guy did,” Schut said. “He did the right thing, he stayed with his machine. Some people have lit their snowmobiles on fire just to keep warm, and it sends a bit of a signal to us.”

Schut said while he wouldn’t call any rescue efforts “textbook,” this rescue went pretty smoothly.

“It did come together just right,” he said.

While the avalanche risk is low right now, Schut encouraged all riders to check avalanche.ca (which is updated daily) before riding to evaluate any risks.

READ MORE: ‘I could still be the one out there’: snowmobiler rescued, 1 still missing near Wells

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Search and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City workers build scaffolding as work begins on refurbishing Quesnel’s gold pan. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel gold pan discussion flares during council’s capital plan debate

Councillor Ron Paull wanted to move the landmark instead of investing in a backdrop

The Jan. 20 Quesnel Cariboo Observer features team photos from the Quesnel and District Minor Hockey Association. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Minor Hockey shines in Observer special section

This week’s paper features one of the few sporting activities still allowed to continue

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Robert Dale Stanton of Clinton was last heard from on Jan. 9, and police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo credit: RCMP)
Police ask for help in locating missing Clinton man

Robert Dale Stanton was last heard from on Jan. 9 and is believed to be in the Clinton/70 Mile area

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Most Read