Rescues are being complicated and hikers are putting themselves at risk in the North Shore backcountry by making simple and avoidable mistakes.
That's the message from North Shore Rescue, after a series of incidents and rescues that flirted with disaster.
During Sunday's nasty storm, NSR members were doing renos on their rescue base at the top of Mount Seymour when a group of hikers emerged after attempting to reach Elsay Lake. None of the hikers, whom Jones believes were part of a church group, were prepared for the trip.
"We saw this group just dragging themselves through the parking lot, completely soaked to the bone (in) nothing but cotton clothing," Jones said. "Someone made the decision to go up on one of the worst weather days we've seen in a long time.. .. If they got in trouble out there, they would have created a major, major problem for rescue capabilities."
Jones is hoping someone can put them in contact with the group so volunteers can brief them on safety basics.
Timing of rescue calls has also been an issue, Jones said. NSR responded to three calls Sept. 22, all of which came in much later than they needed to, jeopardizing potential rescues.
In the first case, RCMP called in North Shore Rescue volunteers after first responders were unable to pinpoint a man who had slipped and fallen about 10 metres off the BCMC Trail. The hiker was lost and waited for help for several hours, Jones said. Eventually it was another hiker who heard the man's cries for help and escorted him down to the Baden Powell Trail where search volunteers intercepted them.
Then, after darkness fell, search crews received another request for help, this time from a young Burnaby couple lost on the side of Mount Seymour. The pair had set out on the Baden Powell Trail from Panorama Drive around 4:30 p.m. and hoped to make it to Lynn Canyon, but by 7:30 p.m. were severely disoriented. North Shore Rescue members used the lost couple's smartphone GPS co-ordinates to find them on the Bridal Path area of Seymour.
This time of year, the sun sets around 7 p.m., Jones said, but darkness falls much sooner under heavy tree foliage or in a canyon.
"The light window is rapidly decreasing. If you get into trouble, don't wait too long before you phone for help, especially if you need a helicopter to come get you because we need every opportunity to get up and get you," he said.
© Copyright 2013