It’s been non-stop mayhem on the mountain passes on both sides of the US/Canada border these last few days. Cold temperatures and record-level precipitation in the forecast have made for extremely challenging conditions in the valleys and wintry conditions on the mountain passes. This weather system has also made headline news with mass evacuations in Yellowstone National Park. We had a taste of the extreme conditions when frontrunner Sofiane Sehili passed through ahead of the others, but it’s safe to say things have only worsened in the last 48 hours. While the majority of riders are okay, some haven’t been so lucky. As of yesterday, Fernie Search and Rescue has reported 10 separate rescues—everything from hypothermia to broken ribs—mostly owing to riders not being prepared for the current conditions on the route.
Here’s what Fernie Search and Rescue shared yesterday: “A message to all Tour Divide racers from the local Search and Rescue groups: There have been a number of rescues for Tour Divide racers in the Elkford – Fernie area in the last 72 hours. 6 in the course of today. Most have involved serious cases of hypothermia. We would like to draw your attention to the challenges of the route from Fernie to the US border, which are potentially extreme with the current weather. Fernie to the US border is typically 14-16 hours of riding. There is no food along the way. There is only one public shelter (Butts Cabin, about half way). The weather will be heavy precipitation for the next 24 hours, much of it snow at higher elevations. The risk of hypothermia is extreme and riders who are not sufficiently prepared are encouraged to delay this stage until the weather is more supportive. Ride safe and enjoy!”
Reports from the Field
We rounded up a handful of Instagram posts from 2022 Tour Divide riders reporting on their experiences with this year’s unpredictable conditions, which you can browse through below.
One Rider’s Bear Spray Story
We’ll wrap things up with a sobering post from rider Paul Anson that we found in the Tour Divide Facebook Group, in which he shares the unbelievable story of his attempt gone awry:
“Tour Divide is all about stories. On Friday I turned back because I had severe pain in my rotator cuff (a pre-existing issue) on the singletrack by Spray Lake, got to the physio, she did great. Restarted from Canmore on Saturday up to Round Priaire a good 100 miles and I was strong. Yesterday got over Koko Pass okay, I was going great feeling positive, then about 20 miles out from Fernie the bear spray on my handlebars went off. I could see in the gravel where I slammed on blinded then swerved into the a rock. Thankfully(!) hitting that rock stopping me going into the river. Evacuated by helicopter, in hospital with 7 broken ribs. Tip is dont put your bear spray on your handle bars! Hospital staff confirm they do just go off from time to time. I’m not the first. What a trip. Just as I was feeling positive… after Friday. Best wishes to you all.”
Stay safe out there! And stay tuned for more Tour Divide updates later this week.
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