A convoy of vehicles leaves Hemlock Valley Road on Feb. 3, 2020, escorted by an Emil Anderson Maintenance vehicle.(Emil Anderson Maintenance/Contributed)

B.C. family recounts escape after landslide strands them on Sasquatch Mountain

Christine Nielsen, her husband and two kids drove up only a couple of hours before the road washout

Many skiers, snowboarders, and employees are home safe after being stranded on Sasquatch Mountain north of Agassiz. A landslide on Friday evening shut down Hemlock Valley Road – the only way in or out.

DriveBC said no detour was available at the time of the slide while the resort and village had the power knocked out for a large portion of the weekend.

Willoughby resident Christine Nielsen said she and her family were heading to the resort on Friday when their stay became longer – and more perilous – than first planned.

“In the grand scheme of things, we are homeowners and have a vacation property that we visit almost every weekend and holidays,” Nielsen said. “But the road going up there is very notorious and not very well maintained.”

Nielsen is fairly certain the abundant mixture of snow and rain caused the washout, but the condition of the road itself was ultimately to blame.

“It’s barely two lanes at the best of times and only half of it is paved – the rest is gravel. Logging trucks were allowed on it and there are a lot of pot holes,” she explained.

Nielsen drove up with her children, ages 11 and 13, two hours prior to the washout, with her husband in a separate vehicle not far behind.

“Hundreds of families were on that road – there was a race supposed to be happening that weekend,” she noted. “If you were caught in the middle of it, I’m not sure you would have survived.”

Once up, plans for a couple days on the slopes at Sasquatch were dampened with power outages and more than 500 other people cooped up in the resort’s lodge.

Nielsen said her family was lucky, having a back-up generator as well as books, board games, and their own privacy to keep their spirits high.

She gave a particular kudos to the “amazing” resort staff who not only made sure people had amenities, but were kept thoroughly entertained.

“Everyone came together – it was a big community. They played kids movies in the lodge and live music in the pub,” Nielsen said.

After TRK helicopters offered shuttle services to Chilliwack Airport for those stranded at the resort for $150 per person, the road was temporarily reopened through special measures by Ministry of Transportation.

Nielsen and her family were ushered through a carefully monitored drive down the mountain on Monday afternoon, in what she described as caravans of 20 vehicles each.

READ MORE: Hundreds stranded at ski hill in Fraser Valley after heavy rain, landslide

“It was really scary. We went down into the fill-in area where the water was being diverted,” Nielsen recounted.

Ultimately, her family made it down Hemlock Valley Road safely, but Nielsen feels the ordeal has put a damper on their vacation spot.

“It’s frustrating because it will just happen again. We love the mountain – it’s affordable – but, that road has always scared me,” she said.

Nielsen is calling on local MLA’s and even the province to put forth a greater commitment effort for the road to ensure the safety of those who travel to Sasquatch Mountain Resort and the surrounding area.

Additionally, she started an online petition on change.org to spark a conversation about change.

Ground evacuations are still happening as of Tuesday afternoon, with a single lane open for departing and local traffic.

The road will remain closed to public and on-essential traffic until further notice.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

landslide

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

Just Posted

West Kootenay region experiences drier-than-normal July: Report

The region only received around 57% of its normal precipitation during the month

Rossland Heritage Commission looks for new members

You have until Sept. 4 to apply to become a member

No new COVID cases in Kootenay-Boundary

As of July 30, there were no additional cases in the previous two weeks

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Phase three presents new opportunities for Kootenay tourism

Message from MLA Michelle Mungall and MLA Katrine Conroy

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

Most Read