A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)

‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

UPDATE: Both sledders were found safely by the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 23.

When Colin Jalbert bought a used snowmobile last week, the original owner threw in a shovel.

Just a few days later, the Prince George resident was desperately using that shovel to dig out his sled on Yanks Peak near Wells.

Jalbert was among a group of 20 riders from Prince George who arrived at the mountain around 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 22. When they reached the top of the mountain, Jalbert lost control of his sled and was separated from the group. Another member of the group, Mike Harbak, was also separated and remains missing. Wells RCMP, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake Search and Rescue crews and the Wells Snowmobile Club are still searching for Harbak today.

READ MORE: Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

“I just went for a little rip, hit a drift and my handlebars were loose so when I landed I couldn’t hold my line and ended up having to follow another trail that led into the trees,” said Jalbert, who added it was his first time mountain riding. “As a new mountain rider, I got way in over my head. It bottle-necked uphill between some tree, I hesitated for a second and got stuck in a really s***** spot.”

Jalbert could hear his group’s sleds in the distance, but terrifyingly, they couldn’t hear his screaming or whistles. He had a beacon, avalanche pack, and some basic survival gear, but wishes he had brought a radio.

“I could hear them going by in the distance but they couldn’t hear me over the sleds,” he said. “I used my whistle and screamed but nothing [happened] so I just kept digging. I was determined to get the hell outta there.”

Although Jalbert had spent a lot of time riding before, it was always on groomed trails and rivers in Ontario. He wasn’t prepared for getting buried in five feet of snow.

“I literally had to dig all around my sled to get it turned around and make a path to get out and back on top of the snow and by then it was 4 p.m.,” he said. “I shovelled for I think four to five hours non-stop. Worse come to worst I was going to make a shelter and start a fire.”

After digging a 100-square-foot hole to extract the snowmobile, an exhausted Jalbert made the trek back to his truck.

“It was getting dark and starting to snow. Not gonna lie, I was scared and I was soaked from sweating,” he said. “I feel horrible for leaving someone out there but with my level of experience there would have been both of us stuck out there.”

Jalbert said it was a tough way to learn that snowmobiling in the mountains takes different skills than normal riding and mastering slopes and terrain can be tricky.

“Mountain riding isn’t as easy as it looks and I got a reality check really quickly on how fast things can go sideways. [It’s] not to be taken lightly,” he said. “I could be the one still out there.”

READ MORE: Large attendance for avalanche awareness seminar a good sign of shift in back-country culture

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.

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

Just Posted

Traffic impacts in the downtown Kitimat area are expected to be finished by 4:30 p.m. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Traffic impact in the downtown Kitimat area

The impacted intersections are Haisla/Lahakas intersection and Kuldo/Haisla intersection

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Water will be turned off in Service Centre on May 5th, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (Black Press Media files)
Water in Service Centre will be turned off for system repairs

The water will be turned off on, May 5th from 9 p.m. until the following day at 5 a.m.

The Tamitik Status of Women Association has been receiving anti-racism funding since 2018 and has done a multitude of initiatives over the years. Unable to host in-person events, the TSWA plans to host virtual workshops for all who identify as a woman in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village. (Black Press file)
Tamitik Status of Women Association receive $7,500 in anti-racism funding

TSWA plans to hold women’s gathering events and engage with local government about diversity policies

A Rapid Word Collection workshop took place in 2020 where the Haisla community recorded thousands of words to help them reclaim their language. (Haisla Nation video screenshot)
Haisla reclaim their native language through word collection workshops

Over 10,000 words and 5,000 recordings are now available online

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Most Read