4 American Sledders Rescued

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Lost in Chic-Chics

Four American snowmobilers lost since Saturday evening in the Chic-Chocs wildlife reserve in the Gaspé region were on the way to being rescued by helicopter late Sunday afternoon.

 “The four adult snowmobilers are doing well despite the circumstances.  They managed to make a fire.  But they are stuck, lost in the reserve about 20 km south of Marsoui, said Sergeant Marc Tessier, of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).  We are in constant radio contact with them. ”

 Sergeant Tessier explained that the police attempted to rescue them by snowmobile, but that it was impossible to get there.


 "Trained police officers therefore set out on snowshoes at the end of the afternoon this Sunday in order to bring them food and blankets and keep them company while waiting for a helicopter from  Armed Forces go and rescue them, ”said the SQ spokesperson.

 The helicopter was scheduled to arrive at approximately 6:30 p.m.

 The four snowmobilers had informed the authorities that they had gone astray in the Chic-Chocs reserve around 9 p.m. Saturday.


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I remember in the late eighties, going on 1000 mile rides with an old 2 stoke 500 Yamaha, by myself, discovering Quebec. You are indestructible when you are young, and much more brave than smart. This could have turned out for the worse, great story and great adventure, these guys can access places no sled can go, rescued by helicopter, sounds like a very expensive trip, glad no one got hurt!!

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A lifelong riding partner from Vermont (rode together last week) got back home and turns out some other lady his wife works with personally knew one of these guys wives. Just got word that the helicopter bill was 30,000 grand

i guess 7500.00 each is better than freezing /starving to death in the Chic Chocs

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Good read:



Sent from my iPhoner incident last weekend in the Chic Chocs.  I assume most of you have already heard the general story, so I will quickly summarize that.  I mostly wanted to note what we used (and wished we had) that allowed us to spend almost 40 hours in the woods at 0F and be rescued by a Canadian military helicopter.  Hopefully it can help someone be more prepared than they are now.  


A couple guys from our group of snowbikes dropped over a ridge into a section of steep trees that would have been easily rideable if the snow was different.  That day, the snow was super powdery, bottomless, and filled with buried trees.  I went in to help Leon get unstuck, and quickly found that getting back out the way we went in wasn't going to be possible.  We sidehilled horizontally across the mountain as long as possible, hoping to intersect the ridge and ride out the top.  The tree line was super dense at the top, and riding through it wasn't possible.  The tree line gradually forced us downhill into a river bed, where we decided to head for a "road" on the GPS that would lead us to an old trail, then out.  We battled the creek bottom, open water, tons of stucks, trees, dead ends, etc well past dark  The “road” wasn’t there.  The sides of the ravine were too steep, deep and dense to get out, the way we came in was out of the question, and the way we were heading was dead ended everywhere we looked.  Eventually, wet, cold, exhausted and almost out of gas, we decided to set up camp and try again in the morning.  The next morning, my bike wouldn't start.  Obviously a few mistakes were made that got us in there in the first place, but dozens of good choices followed that allowed us to stay the night, the next day, and half of the following night until we could be retrieved.  Search and rescue had attempted to reach us by snowmobile and snowshoes for almost 24 hours and were unable to get to us. 


It goes without saying that you absolutely need to be able to start and maintain a fire if you expect to spend any amount of time in the woods in the winter. 


Besides that:

The #1 most valuable asset we had was my Corona folding limb saw.  I have been carrying this saw since I started riding the backcountry in 2008, and it was in someone's hand cutting almost 100% of the time.  It is super efficient and durable, and easily cuts up to 12" logs.  DO NOT TRUST THE SHOVEL SAWS!!  They are brittle, bend, and break, and will wear you out.  Fires in the snow take a surprising amount of wood to make heat.  The wood is almost guaranteed to be wet and/or green.  We had stockpiles of different wood and tended the fire constantly, and still froze.  Don't leave home without a good saw.  


#2 Garmin Inreach.  This is a small satellite communication device that allows you to send messages and your coordinates through text.  Not only did this take the guesswork out of where we were for search and rescue, but it allowed us to communicate to our families that we were ok, etc.  We all feel terrible about the worry and chaos that this situation caused our families, but it would have been much worse for them if no one knew where we were, and if we were alive, injured, lost, etc.  I had just gotten the Inreach for christmas and almost didnt take it.  Without it, you are limited to radio contact and old fashioned hunting.  


#3 Good gear.  Space is limited on what we can carry every day, but we all wished we had a spare, dry layer to change out at night.  We were all wet from riding/digging/working, and even the best gear takes a long time to dry out when it's 0 degrees.  Even with good gear and a solid fire, we all froze all night.  I was more sore from shivering and being tense all night than I've ever been from any exercise or activity.  Any gear can be waterproof, but if it doesn't breathe, your inner layers will stay wet.  Breathability is what drys you out and warms you up.  There is a reason I wear and sell Klim.  And I think we all know by now, no cotton.    


#4 Batteries.  Almost all of our "life saving" equipment relies on batteries.  Charge everything every night.  Dont use it during the day if you don't need it.  Keep important, small devices close to your body to keep them warm.  Cold kills batteries even if they aren't being used.  The equipment is only worth having if you can turn it on and use it, and chances are if you need it for an emergency, it is going to be needed for a long period of time.  Carry a small recharging battery and the correct cables, and keep it warm.  


#5 Mental and physical aptitude.  Always be thinking.  Make only careful, methodical movements to make forward progress and avoid mistakes, stay calm.  Panic will never help anything and is usually dangerous.  Luckily we all kept calm, worked together, and were in pretty good shape (for old guys).  This got really long.  


Huge thanks to the local Search and Rescue team, the helicopter crew, our snowbike buddies who did everything in their power to help us out, the Sled Den, and our families for not chopping our heads off when we got home...   Live and learn, send and return.

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I’m glad everyone got out ok and a huge congrats to the Canadian military and the first responders. 
BUT this should start a discussion about off-trail riding and how to fund worst case rescues like this. Many states encourage back country adventurers to purchase cards or contribute to funds that supplement local S&R groups’ funding. 

Edited by vt_bluyamaha54

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