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#294674 - 01/24/20 11:26 PM Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1400
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Although the exact details on how this family came to be stranded in the frozen wilderness is not confirmed, it seems the family may have been using their cellphone as their navigation, which is not always reliable.

Phil Waldner wasn't expecting to come across a stranded family of five when he went out for a snowmobile ride in rural Manitoba after Christmas last month.

The Steinbach, Man., resident was on a trail near Whitemouth Lake, which is nearly 130 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, when he saw car tracks, which seemed odd.

"It was about 15 or 16 kilometres in when I came upon the car that had broken through the ice, and in the car there was an elderly gentleman and two young children," Waldner said.

"They were huddled up in blankets trying to keep warm and I asked them, 'What in the Sam Hill are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?' and they said they're going to Toronto.".


https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/family-rescued-snowmobile-manitoba-1.5439399

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Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

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#294676 - 01/25/20 12:31 PM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3265
Loc: USA
Sounds like this snowmobiler did a lot of things right:

  • situational awareness (saw the tire tracks and knew they didnít belong there)
  • prioritized well (saved the parents as his top priority, then got everyone warm)
  • knew the area (brought them to an emergency warming shelter)
  • had the right gear (wearing layers so that he could share, had a SEND or a PLB)


Impressive!

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#294677 - 01/25/20 04:15 PM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: chaosmagnet]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5265
Loc: SOCAL
Yep, that was a nice save. Youíd like to believe every snowmobiler who goes long in the Canadian wilderness would have that knowledge, SA and equipment, but itís possible this family was saved by an exception.

Itís back to the idea weíve discussed many times before. How many emergencies start off with someone getting lost? Navigating with a cellphone in Manitoba??? WTF? That nav tactic works while walking in urban areas where the only thing you need to worry about is tripping on an open manhole cover or stepping in dogs**t, but using one for driving off-road in Manitoba in winter?? Did they even realize they were off-road? Again, WTF.

Okay, those thoughts are from someone who uses a dedicated GPS receiver (one without a cell receiver) to calculate ETAís while driving, paper maps and has been known to use a sextant. But the idea of blindly following GPS directions just put a thought in my head regarding filters for even a dedicated vehicle GPS (like my Garmin Nuvi receiver). I have mine set up for driving primarily on highways and prioritize time over distance. But I wonder if a filter could be used to remove roads that are not serviced in winter... Iím sure it could.

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#294678 - 01/25/20 04:17 PM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
A big tip o' the hat to Phil Waldner. Well done sir!

This could have easily been a recovery. It's a classic cascade of small decisions and errors that almost led to tragedy.

A brief rant: No basic gear in the car for being stranded in a Canadian winter? Relying on a cell phone for navigation in areas known to have spotty/no reception? Three adults in the car and no-one looked out the window and said "This doesn't seem right, let's turn back!"? No basic gear to get the vehicle unstuck (it doesn't look bad to me). Walking out in sneakers? ARGH!

Glad everyone is safe, and hopefully a hard lesson learned. It's a reminder that your planning, skills, and gear may well be used to save someone else.

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#294681 - 01/25/20 09:02 PM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3265
Loc: USA
I havenít traveled in Canada for over 20 years, but this is almost exactly the ďworst caseĒ scenario that I built my car kit for.

Particularly in unfamiliar areas, Iím not even a tiny bit embarrassed to declare an ďabortĒ and turn the car around to get back onto the pavement.

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#294684 - 01/26/20 01:58 AM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: chaosmagnet]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Particularly in unfamiliar areas, Iím not even a tiny bit embarrassed to declare an ďabortĒ and turn the car around to get back onto the pavement.


I begin to think this is a learned skill. After you have been turned around enough times, you don't take it as a personal failure to say "Ah stuff it, this route isn't working out; I don't know where I am but I know where I've been, so back I go, and I'll re-calibrate from there."

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#294685 - 01/26/20 02:35 AM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
A thought exercise, everyone:

I was looking at the photo from the news story, and speculating how to use the resources at hand to improve the situation.

Assume, for a moment, we were riding in someone else's vehicle and asleep in the back when navigation went sideways. Now, here we are. What do you think?


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#294687 - 01/26/20 03:45 AM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3265
Loc: USA
1) Iím pretty good at getting cars out of jams compared to many folks I know, especially if they have 4WD or AWD, and also if thereís a shovel handy. Itís possible that Iíve had some bad judgement that led to experience here.

2) Iíve used a jack to get a car out of a jam before, by building a platform for the jack, getting a wheel up out of its difficulty, and piling locally sourced wood or rocks under the wheel in the hole. This is time consuming but has worked for me.

3) It looks like there is no winch. If thereís tow rope and good sticks, Iíd try to make a flip-flop winch and pull it out that way.

4) if there is no flip-flop winch option, Iíd be looking at using whatever natural resources available to get the car unstuck.

5) Each car and my laptop bag has a ham radio VHF/UHF transceiver in it, thatís worth trying if there is one.

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#294689 - 01/26/20 03:53 AM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: chaosmagnet]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7151
Loc: southern Cal
This is a pretty good example of why you should always have a shovel in your vehicle.
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Geezer in Chief

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#294690 - 01/26/20 04:00 AM Re: Snowmobiler finds family of 5 stuck in wilderness [Re: Teslinhiker]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2469
Loc: Big Sky Country
Yeah, the flip-flop winch would be a good option provided you had a tow/recovery strap and a few tools (a saw would be helpful, a shovel doubly so). I do need to get a recovery strap!

I do keep enough stuff in my car to survive at least a week in the wilderness in very cold temps; that's a week before things even got uncomfortable! Partly it's due to growing up in the midwest where huge blizzards are commonplace, and partly due to me being an avid outdoorsperson.
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ďYou can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.Ē Naguib Mahfouz

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