After a second weekend spent plucking unprepared hikers from the North Shore's mountains, rescuers have issued a stark warning: It's only a matter of time before someone dies.
For the second time in the space of a week, North Shore Rescue volunteers had to respond to back-to-back calls Sunday involving hikers who had injured themselves while descending steep snowfields without proper gear.
"There's going to be a fatality. I'm convinced about this," said NSR team leader Tim Jones. "People are hiking in these areas in droves. and they're not equipped. They don't have the proper footwear, and they don't have ice axes."
Just before 3 p.m. Sunday, a woman hiking on a snowfield between Unnecessary Mountain and the Lions fell and struck a tree, injuring her chest, according to Jones. Rescuers rushed to the area by helicopter, and spotted the hiker and her friends on a nearby ridge. The pilot flew in close enough for rescue team members to haul the woman on board and fly her to safety.
Just two hours later, a man fell and injured his knee while coming down a snowfield in the same area. In this case, NSR flew the man out by long line to the Capilano Search and Rescue Station, where an ambulance was waiting for him.
Snowfields are particularly dangerous as they can be riddled with rocky outcrops and trees, Jones said.
"People really have to heed our advice here when they're travelling in the higher alpine areas," he said. "There's still a ton of snow around. . . . Going with a light backpack and trail-runners doesn't cut it."