The hikers – one male in his late 60s and another male in his mid-70s, both from the North Shore and accompanied by a small black dog – had to be rescued off Mount Fromme Thursday after they’d spent the day mapping the area's old skid roads but ended up stuck on a small ledge partway up a steep cliff.
The duo and pooch, who were stuck off-trail more than halfway up the mountain, called 911 after they’d determined they could no longer safely ascend or descend the mountain without risk of serious injury.
North Shore Rescue dispatched its Talon helicopter at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“They knew their location but were just unable to move,” said Paul Markey, NSR search manager.
The volunteer search and rescue crew determined it would hoist the hikers and canine into the helicopter, rather than a rope rescue and leading the hikers out by foot, which would have required more equipment and personnel, and put more people at risk.
Tree canopy coverage meant that NSR couldn’t hoist down to the hikers’ exact location when they arrived on scene, however, added Markey.
“We hoisted down two rescue techs to a point higher up the cliff on the ridge, which was an easier and safer place for them to be lowered. Once they were on the ridge, they rappelled down to the subjects, they assessed the subjects, and they extracted them from that location,” he said. “We did know beforehand that there was a dog, so when we prepared for the hoist extraction we did in fact send in a harness for the dog as well.”
The hikers, one of whom was a retired land surveyor, had started hiking up Fromme’s Big Cedar Trail before deviating onto an adjacent skid road at some point during their hike.
Some of the first-ever roads built in North Vancouver were skid roads that served the then-booming local logging industry. The hikers had planned to follow one of those old decommissioned roads on Fromme and survey it using the mapping tool Gaia.
At one point, however, the road became almost impossible to navigate.
“They were in some very, very steep terrain. They were scared of serious injury if they should try and descend,” said Markey. “Their mistake was not turning around when it was safe to do so. The ground was getting steeper and steeper and steeper, and they didn’t have the equipment for climbing.”
Both hikers and dog were extracted safely.
On Tuesday (June 8), North Shore Rescue responded to a rescue call-out on Mount Seymour after a woman in her 20s became lost and stranded among the rotten snow and gullies near the Goldie Lake hiking trail, and called for help.
Crews responded and rescue extraction by foot to the nearby parking lot took approximately 30 minutes.