Mike Harbak spent the night with only his snowmobile and winter gear on Yanks Peak before being rescued the next day. (Submitted Photo)

Mike Harbak spent the night with only his snowmobile and winter gear on Yanks Peak before being rescued the next day. (Submitted Photo)

Stranded sledder used snowmobile for warmth on Yanks Peak

Mike Harbak of Prince George spent one night on the mountain before being rescued

When Mike Harbak took his snowmobile off his truck to ride Yanks Peak, he had no idea what he was forgetting.

The Prince George rider had accidentally left his emergency shovel behind. It would prove to be a critical mistake, as Harbak was separated from his riding group and got stuck in the snow Sunday, Nov. 22. He was forced to spend the night on the mountain with no food or shelter.

Colin Jalbert who was stuck and briefly reported missing alongside Harbak on Nov. 22, said the only reason he was able to make it back using his snowmobile was because of an emergency shovel given to him by the machine’s previous owner.

Luckily for Harbak, he was rescued the next day after search and rescue crews found him near his stranded machine.

“The only way I could stay warm was starting the sled and laying on the tunnel,” Harbak said while resting comfortably at home a couple of days after the experience. “It wasn’t windy where I was, and it was kinda clear out. That was the biggest break; if it had been colder, I would’ve gotten frostbite on my toes.”

Harbak added he got stuck two other times before getting caught for good.

Search and Rescue teams got the call Nov. 22 at 9 p.m., and they began searching for Harbak the next morning. Harbak said he only had his snowmobile gear, water and Gatorade. Harbak said he slept during the night.

“Nothing I could do at night but sit and hope to hear someone come,” he said.

Harbak said he first heard a rescue helicopter at 9 a.m., but it took a while for it to locate him.

“Luckily, he came straight at me when he found me. I was so relieved.”

Harbak’s action of staying put was praised by Quesnel Search and Rescue search manager Gerald Schut.

“We will find you, don’t try to find us, and that’s what [Harbak] did,” Schut said. “He did the right thing, he stayed with his machine. Some people have lit their snowmobiles on fire just to keep warm, and it sends a bit of a signal to us.”

Harbak said he was able to remain calm by realizing doing anything else would be unproductive.

“Freaking out probably would have made it worse,” he said. “So I just sat by my sled, had headlights on pointing in the sky, because the snow was way too deep to walk in and [I] was a ways away from the main trail.”

Harbak added he would have gotten out on his own if he had his shovel.

Search and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.
FOREST INK: A year to remember for lumber prices

As of March 12, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) two-by-four cost $1,040 per thousand board feet

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Drier weather good for calving season

My partner and I team up to look for any newborns and note them for later in the day

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 president David Brideau salutes the Cenotaph at city hall during a past Remembrance Day services in Williams Lake Monday, Nov. 11. Brideau, who served three years with the Canadian military in Edmonton, was the parade commander during the Legion’s Remembrance Day service. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake legion looks to upgrade lounge, patio, to be COVID compliant

Upgrades will require significant financial investment, Branch 139 president David Brideau said

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read