Kluane National Park staff rescued two women mountaineers by helicopter on Sunday.
The pair encountered difficulties with high waters at Bullion Creek and spent a cold, wet night waiting to be rescued.
They had attempted to cross the creek on Saturday while trekking long and arduous icefields and mountains on a multi-day trip. On the last leg of their trip, they skiied the Kaskawulsh glacier and hiked into the Slims valley. Then, at Bullion Creek, one mountaineer was caught downstream in the high levels of the creek.
On Saturday morning, the women knew they would be delayed by a day because of the cold and high water conditions and notified the Jasper dispatch that they were waiting for the creek level to drop. They tried to cross later in the night when the water receded, but one of them got stuck in the high waters.
It was not very long that the woman was caught in the rapids, “or she wouldn’t be with us,” said Anne Morin, Parks Canada superintendant for the Yukon. Both managed to get to safety, but they spent a “very wet and cold night out,” she said.
“Due to the difficult and lengthy trip, which involves some crevice falls, they were out of food and low on fuel,” said Morin. They needed the fuel to heat water, and were “overdue a little bit,” she added.
Morin said the women could have been out for weeks or days, but she did not know the details.
The women called RCMP at 6:45 a.m. and Parks officer Craig McKinnon helped save the women via helicopter. They were safely returned to Silver City by 11:30 a.m.
“It’s a positive outcome,” Morin said, adding that it was a “quick turn-around.”
Kluane National Park describes the creek crossing as the most challenging part of the Bullion Plateau trail. Visitors are recommended to cross where the creek is braided, towards the end of it. Parks also recommends hikers travel the plateau trail in groups of four or more.
Morin said that the women were “extremely grateful” to the staff and preferred not to have their names released.
Although the park provides emergency assistance, Morin encourages visitors, especially mountaineers, to be all the more vigilant. “It’s the responsibility of the visitors to be prepared and assess their risk.”
Crossing the Bullion Creek still poses danger, “due to last week’s hot weather and the increase snow melt,” said Morin. “We also have a compounding effect due to the heavy rain that we had on Friday to Sunday. So the water levels are even higher.”
She urges visitors to contact the Parks Canada reception centre to get updated trail conditions and advice for planning trips. The centre can be reached at 1-888-773-8888.
Contact Krystle Alarcon at firstname.lastname@example.org