During the summer, B.C. reported a rise in the number of water-related emergencies and drownings occurring compared to the previous year.
With British Columbians increasingly turning to local travel during the pandemic, those who are new to outdoor activities and excursions need to be properly prepared for the terrain, the elements, and emergency situations—and that’s especially true as we head further into autumn and winter.
Three rescue efforts this past weekend illustrate the importance of being prepared.
On October 24, Lions Bay Search and Rescue was called to locate and extract two lost hikers in the Harvey Basin area, who were reportedly ill-equipped.
After the hikers missed a turn off to the Lions Trail, they had continued to the Harvey Basin Trail until they lost track of the trail in the snow.
Luckily, the hikers managed to obtain cell coverage and relayed their approximate location to search and rescue.
When rescuers spotted them, who were wearing dark camouflage clothing, from a helicopter, rescue teams were dropped off at a nearby ridge before making their way over slick and uneven terrain covered by about 20 centimetres (eight inches) of new snow to reach the two individuals.
By the time rescuers reached the pair, they were shivering in cotton clothing that had frozen solid.
After being given a change of clothing, proper hiking boots, and heat vests and tea, the six rescue team members and two hikers made a three-hour hike out of the field (the helicopter returned to Vancouver International Airport due to darkness), returning by about 10 p.m.
The two hikers had gone hiking without leaving a trip plan, had not informed anyone where they were going, were wearing inappropriate clothing (including shorts) and footwear, did not have a flashlight, and didn’t backtrack to retrace their steps after they lost their way.
Lions Bay SAR wasn’t the only search team that had to go out to rescue hikers.
On October 24, North Shore Rescue (NSR) was called about a stranded hiker in Hanes Valley, who was wearing improper footwear, as well as a lost hiker near Lynn Headwaters. Both individuals were located and rescued.
NSR says that proper outdoor clothing includes warm winter hiking boots, gaiters, PolyPro layers, puffy jackets, shell jackets, toques, gloves, and a change of base layer to replace the sweaty base layer you hike in.
NSR also explains that in autumn, hikers can experience sun, sleet, snow, and icing in the course of one day. Also, as avalanche risks will increase in the coming weeks, hikers need to take an avalanche course and take appropriate equipment (beacon, probe, shovel).
Those hoping to get outside today (October 26) should note that Grouse Mountain issued a notice that the Grouse Grind is closed due to icy and unsafe conditions.