Seattle man rescued from crevasse 

Search and Rescue in Squamish called to rescued BASE Jumper

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JUN YANAGISAWA - SPEARHEAD SURPRISE Whistler Search and Rescue team members Matt Bodkin (front) and Daren Romano re-setting a crevasse rescue pulley system while Rob Withey minds the crevasse edge and the subject.
  • Photo by Jun Yanagisawa
  • SPEARHEAD SURPRISE Whistler Search and Rescue team members Matt Bodkin (front) and Daren Romano re-setting a crevasse rescue pulley system while Rob Withey minds the crevasse edge and the subject.

Nikolai Popov from Seattle is thankful that someone saw him plunge into a crevasse near Decker Mountain in the Spearhead Range on Friday, May 11.

According to news reports, the University of Washington professor skied up to a crack in the snow and he was probing the crack when it opened up and swallowed him. Popov fell 15 metres without injury. While trapped in the crevasse, Popov took pictures that were later published on the internet.

Brad Sills of Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) provided Pique Newsmagazine with an event summary and in it he noted that Popov, 55, fell into the crevasse at about 12:30 pm.

"WSAR Team members Darren Romano, Jun Yanagisawa, Rob Withey and Matt Bodkin assessed the information, prepared a plan and flew with Paul Copeland of Blackcomb Aviation arriving at the scene at 2:30 p.m.," wrote Sills in his report. "Daryl Kincaid managed the operation from WSAR base."

Popov was skiing with a new friend he met on the ski lift earlier in the day. According to Popov, the backcountry skiers and new friends were headed to Mount Pattison east of Blackcomb Mountain. Sills reported that Popov was the slower skier and his new friend turned at one point and couldn't see Popov so the other skier back-tracked to find Popov was unhurt in the crevasse.

The Seattle resident said he was stuck in the crevasse with no way out so he required help from WSAR. Popov's new friend skied off to get help. The trapped skier had an emergency blanket and extra clothing and he said he would have survived if he had to spend the night in the crevasse. Popov only had to spend just over two hours in the crevasse. He noted that he was fortunate that he didn't fall further because the crevasse dropped another 20 metres below him.

Sills said the rescue was completed by 4:30 p.m.

Daren Romano with Whistler Search and Rescue said after Popov was rescued that anyone who ventures into the backcountry this spring should do so in a group with self-rescue tools.

Members of Squamish Search and Rescue were busy Saturday after a BASE Jumper needed help on the Stawamus Chief.

According to the Squamish RCMP, the base jumper's parachute didn't fully deploy and the man in his mid-forties had to be rescued by a helicopter using a long line. An RCMP spokesperson said the base jumper lives outside of B.C. The BASE Jumper was taken to hospital with injuries that were described as minor.

Many BASE Jumpers have made unsuccessful launches from the summit of Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. In the summer of 2010, then mayor Greg Gardner called for a ban on BASE Jumping due to the unpredictable winds that often move across the steep rock face of The Chief. In the two weeks before Gardner spoke out, two jumpers were injured and tied up valuable Search and Rescue resources.

Pick up Thursday's edition of Pique Newsmagazine for more details.

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