Two hikers on the closed Quarry Rock trail learned a valuable lesson on Thursday when they had to be rescued after sliding off the rock’s edge while trying to take a photograph, leaving them trapped on a ledge.
David Dales, assistant fire chief of operations for District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, said the two young men called for help around 6:20 p.m. Sept. 2 when they got themselves stuck in a “dangerous spot” at the viewpoint of the popular Deep Cove trail.
“They somehow were trying to position for a photograph and then they slid onto the ledge,” he said. “They slid down that section [of the rock] that is impossible to climb back up on the very top, on the closed section of Quarry Rock.”
Dales said the duo had made the situation worse for themselves by hesitating to call 911 for help.
“I don't know their mindset,” he said. “They weren't making solid decisions to put themselves there and they just continued to make poor decisions. They were stuck there for an extended period of time – a couple of hours – and then they finally called 911 and our firefighters responded.
“We had darkness coming and they were just in a really bad spot.”
Dales said because of where the hikers got stuck, the crew had to conduct a full technical rope rescue to get the men to safety.
“We actually have to set up lines and anchors and put firefighters in harnesses,” Dales explained. “Then we lowered a firefighter to the two people who were trapped and one at a time a rescuer secured them and then brought them up.”
The two men aren’t the first to have a slip off the rock viewpoint. Dales noted that when the North Vancouver trail was open, “we used to do those rescues all the time.”
“We train there a lot and it's a simple rescue for us, but it is a very dangerous spot,” he said.
The two hikers escaped the slip uninjured, Dales said, but were unprepared for the dark. He wanted to remind the public that “if you are in a spot where your safety's in danger, call 911 immediately.”
“The fire department will always respond,” Dales said.
When it comes to hiking Quarry Rock, he said the message was “pretty clear.”
“Quarry Rock is currently still closed, and we encourage everyone to avoid any closed areas,” he said.
Quarry Rock was initially closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic because maintaining physical distancing was difficult due to overcrowding on the trail and at the lookout, said Justin Beddall, District of North Vancouver communications co-ordinator.
“More recently, we have kept it closed due to significant infrastructure work underway in Deep Cove,” Beddall said, including the Gallant Avenue storm sewer replacement project.
“As a result of this construction, there is limited parking, as well as detours and considerable traffic delays.”
While some hikers claim they aren’t doing anything wrong by getting to the lookout via other routes on the Baden Powell trail, Beddall said the district strongly discouraged the behaviour and park rangers would be on the lookout for rule-breakers.
“DNV park rangers continue to turn away people attempting to access the Baden Powell trail and Quarry Rock,” he said.
“Access to the viewpoint via other trails is strongly discouraged, and we ask people to respect the closure.”