Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) was contacted by the Kelowna RCMP to rescue two lost hikers near the cell towers at the summit of Okanagan Mountain Park late Saturday night.
According to COSAR, two male hikers in their mid-20s has been out since 9:30 a.m. and were caught by surprise when a snowstorm blew in and obscured the already over-grown Baker Lake trail.
The two men bushwacked to the visible cell towers, found shelter from the high winds in the leeward side and called for help.
A dozen COSAR members subsequently responded to the call.
To minimize exposure due to COVID-19, COSAR sent a two-person team in with a track-equipped UTV. The remaining members, and a helicopter equipped with night vision in Penticton, were placed on standby.
The UTV team got within a kilometer of the hikers when the snowdrifts became impassable. The two searchers then started walking with snowshoes and reached the mean at about 1:10 a.m.
The rescue team placed N95 masks on the men for precaution and everyone returned to base by 2:30 a.m. The hikers were cold and very exhausted but otherwise in good condition.
Search manager Brian Stainsby said SAR teams are still available 24/7 during the pandemic, but suggests now is not the time for ambitious adventues.
“The hikers were experienced, but the weather at the summit was different than in the valley bottom. The hikers were not prepared for the change in weather conditions, which led to the need of our assistance.”