A woman is dead after she and her husband were missing for 10 days despite four SOS distress signals carved into the snow of the Rocky Mountains, according to officials.

What can only be described as a tragic ending to a terrible ordeal for Quebec couple 51-year-old Gilles Blackburn and 44-year-old Marie Jose Fortin, has left questions of how the tourists were stranded for over a week without help, despite repeated attempts to alert authorities.

The couple were skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, B.C., for the Valentine’s Day weekend when they got lost in the back country Feb. 15. According to authorities, they were not prepared for the conditions and didn’t have food or water, except for two granola bars.

When help finally reach Blackburn, his wife had already succumbed to the conditions days earlier, according to RCMP.

“It’s just terrible, it’s very tragic” Cpl. Annie Linteau of the RCMP said.

Purcell Helicopter Skiing initially spotted the first SOS in the snow on Feb. 17 and notified Golden Search and Rescue. On Feb. 21, they saw two more SOS symbols in the snow and this time contacted Golden RCMP.

But according to Linteau, no searches were conducted because after checking with the ski resort, there was no missing equipment or cars left behind.

“All enquiries met with negative results that might have surfaced evidence that anyone was missing and as such a ground search was not launched,” the RCMP stated.

Jordan Petrovics, spokesperson for Kicking Horse, said the resort employees conducted a base area search when they first heard about the tracks and SOS symbols, but learned about the rescue search on Tuesday.

“We’re not saying too much else right now because the RCMP has taken the investigation over,” he said, but in a statement they sent their condolences to the family.

Linteau said the couple was reported missing in Montreal on Monday but before authorities were contacted in Golden, they had already been found.

Blackburn is recovering in hospital with frostbite.

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