Officials from the Vermont State Police are warning the public of the safety issues that persist when the temperatures drop below zero.
Adam Silverman, the spokesperson for the Vermont State Police, said the public should take precautions when enjoying Mother Nature this weekend.
“Recent snowstorms have been a welcome sight for outdoor enthusiasts, but cold temperatures this weekend will increase hazards for those who venture into the backcountry,” Silverman wrote in a press release Friday.
Thursday night, a skier near Jay Peak became separated from his group and spent several hours in cold and windy conditions until he was located and brought out of the woods by rescuers.
That skier, Robert Staniforth, 69, of Newport was skiing out of bounds on Thursday when he was separated from three other skiers in his group. Those skiers began looking for him, and also called 911 for help.
About two hours later, through the help of a cell phone with a GPS transmitter, rescue crews were able to locate the skier, who was reported to be cold but in good health.
Staniforth’s group was back country skiing from the Jay Peak resort to Route 242 when they became separated.
As a matter of practice, skiers, riders and others headed outdoors are encouraged to follow some basic safety precautions, including not leaving the ski area boundry.
“Many problems are caused by people skiing or riding past signs and under barriers into remote and unpatrolled terrain, and then being unable to get back to the resort. Just because there are ski tracks heading into the woods doesn’t mean it’s OK to follow them,” said Silverman.
Silverman noted that some precautions can be taken if you are planning to ski out of bounds. Those include the following:
• Bring a pack with extra clothes, food
• Don’t go into unfamiliar areas unless you have a map, compass and a plan for your route.
• Do not go alone, and if traveling with others
• Tell somebody where you are going and when you plan on returning.
• Go early in the day while there is plenty of daylight. The last run of the day is not the time to head into the woods.
• Cellphone coverage can be spotty or nonexistent in backcountry areas, so don’t plan on that as your safety net. If you do bring a phone, keep it on airplane mode and store it in a pocket close to your body to keep it warm so it’s ready to go with plenty of battery life in case of an emergency.
• Plan your trips around adverse weather. Temperatures may not get above single digits in the mountains this weekend, so consider saving that outdoor adventure for more favorable weather.
• If you venture outdoors be sure you have plenty of warm layers, and all exposed skin is covered.
Staniforth spent more than two hours lost in the woods of Jay Peak, which is significantly less than most skiers who are lost in the same area. He was located deep in the woods of Jay, between the resort and the Village of Westfield, according to Silverman.
Rescue crews consisted of Jay Peak Ski Patrol, Jay Fire Department, Troy Fire Department, Vermont State Police Search and Rescue Team, and Missisquoi Valley Rescue.