North Shore Rescue members say a wayward hiker got lucky after surviving a fall down a cliff and spending a night in the wilderness over the weekend.
Around 9 p.m. Friday the RCMP received multiple 911 calls reporting a man screaming for help about half way down the BCMC trail.
Officers called in North Shore Rescue who searched the area, using a loud hailer and listening device from atop the Grouse Mountain tram. Around 11 p.m., they determined he was down a rocky gully between the BCMC trail and the Flint and Feather trail.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NSR chose to send in a limited rescue team, said Don Jardine, search manager.
Getting to the subject required a tricky approach using headlamps and ropes to rappel down.
When they arrived around 1 a.m., they found the man clinging to a tree and showing signs of a head injury, Jardine said.
“He had fallen down a steep rock face and had been stopped by a tree that had fallen across the bank,” he said. “He had a bump on his head and he said he was getting a little dizzy and a little blurred vision, so we were hesitant to try and walk him out.”
Instead, they offered the man some medical treatment, food and a heated vest to prevent hypothermia while they waited with him until first light when they could get a Talon helicopter in to shuttle them out.
Jardine said no one involved in the rescue knows how the man wound up down the cliff.
“I haven’t got a clue. He hasn’t got a clue. Misadventure would be my main guess,” he said.
In snowy conditions, people often miss the end of the switchbacks on BCMC, Jardine said.
“And it doesn’t take very long to get into a very steep cliff,” he added.
Normally, the team has a doctor on standby at least to advise them on how to handle injured patients. With hospital staff totally occupied by COVID-19, Jardine said people who insist on going out onto the trails should limit themselves to low-risk, low-elevation ones where they are least likely to wind up in need of medical help.
“It’s not the time to be going out and doing heroic things – solo trips up in the mountains. Our medical staff are run off their feet. The last thing we need is someone getting injured trying to do something out of the ordinary up in the mountains,” he said. “This fellow was definitely in a very precarious position and taking ambulance, police and hospital staff away from dealing with [the pandemic].”