WSAR rescue Seattle man from Spearhead Range crevasse 

Squamish SAR called to rescue BASE Jumper

click to enlarge PJOTO 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.
  • Pjoto 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 was probing the crack with his pole when it opened up and swallowed him. Popov fell 15 metres — luckily he was not injured. While trapped in the crevasse, Popov took pictures that were later published on the Internet.

Whistler Search and Rescue's (WSAR) Brad Sills said in an email that Popov, 55, fell into the crevasse at about 12:30 p.m.

"WSAR Team members Daren 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.," he said.

"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 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 he backtracked to find Popov down the crevasse.

The Seattle resident said he was stuck in the crevasse with no way to self-rescue. 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. Fortunately, Popov spent just over two hours trapped. 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.

Whistler Search and Rescue remind anyone venturing into the backcountry this spring to do so in a group with self-rescue tools.

Meanwhile, members of Squamish Search and Rescue were busy Saturday (May 12) after a BASE jumper needed help on the Stawamus Chief just before noon.

According to the Squamish RCMP, the BASE jumper's parachute didn't fully deploy and the 48-year-old man from Washington State had to be rescued by helicopter using a long line. An RCMP statement indicated the man hit some trees. The thrill seeker was taken to Squamish General Hospital with injuries that were described as minor.

A number of 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.

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