What To Do If You Become Lost
Even though you have prepared yourself for your outing, you and your party could find yourselves in an emergency,
This could be due to:
- Becoming lost. Common causes include white-out conditions, generally foul weather, darkness, unfamiliarity with the area, skiing alone or getting separated from your party.
- Injury. Accidents can happen, even to the best of us.
- Fatigue. This can be due to not being acclimated to a higher altitude, poor physical condition, illness, poor nutrition (lack of water / food) or improper clothing.
- Equipment failure. A broken ski pole in deep back country snow can make travel impossible.
S … STOP – Stay put (if in a safe place). The farther you go, the longer it will take for searchers to find you.
T … THINK – Evaluate your options. What about the others in your party — is everyone prepared? What can you do to remedy the situation? Should you backtrack or stay put to allow searchers to find you?
O … OBSERVE – Look around you and use what you see to help the situation. Check your surroundings and your equipment.
P … PLAN – Formulate a plan of action and implement it.
Stop, Stay Where You Are. Bivouac early.
Emergency shelters are easy to build, but take time and effort. Do whatever is necessary to keep warm and dry. In our Sierra environment, a tree well is the best type of shelter since it is already half built. Select a tree well that is out of the wind and has limbs dropping to the snow. Add more limbs, bark, tarp, garbage bags or slabs of snow for the roof and build up snow for the sides. Insulate the floor with boughs, packs, ect. Keep off the snow. Face the shelter’s entrance east for morning sun and don’t hide from search parties. Trenches, fallen trees, rocky outcrops and caves also offer protection.