Rescuers say a hiker is “incredibly lucky” to be out of the mountains in one piece after taking a major spill off a backcountry trail.
The 29-year-old North Vancouver man set out from the top of Skyline Drive early Wednesday morning (Jan. 26) with no particular destination in mind, said Peter Haigh, North Shore Rescue search manager.
By early afternoon, he’d made it almost as far as Goat Mountain, north of Grouse Mountain’s peak. That’s where he ran into trouble, Haigh said.
“He found himself on a very narrow ledge, lost his balanced and toppled over, went flying down this very precipitous slope,” he said.
Amazingly, he managed to come to a stop with only scratches and bruises, Haigh said, and his cellphone had enough reception to call for help.
His GPS co-ordinates indicated he was about 150 metres off the trail, Haigh said, but it wasn’t until they arrived that rescuers realized just how far down he had slid.
They decided to call in Talon’s helicopter with hoist capabilities. The alternative would have been lugging in hundreds of feet of rope and more ground teams, which would have dragged the rescue into darkness.
“We'd like the helicopter,” Haigh said with a laugh. “It’s damned expensive, though.”
The hiker wasn’t well prepared for the backcountry, wearing only jeans and a light jacket. He was “pretty hypothermic” when he was finally winched to safety after 6 p.m., Haigh said.
“He’s really incredibly lucky – also that he didn't freeze to death waiting for us because it did take a few hours to get to him. ... It wasn’t a pleasant wait for him, I’m sure.”
North Shore Rescue says it’s always best to travel with someone else on backcountry trails, and if that’s not possible, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’re due back.
“This guy really didn't appreciate the difficulty he was in,” he said. “If he'd hit his head and was unconscious, that's the end of him. There's just no way. Nobody would know where he is or where to start looking for him.”