This Sunday at approximately 10:30 AM, North Shore Rescue was activated for a Avalanche on the Grouse Grind. Given the history of the trail, with a previous avalanche fatality in 99 and excessive numbers of people venturing up the trail, NSR took this call very seriously. Following our occupational health and safety and operational response plan, a full avalanche rescue response was activated.
With the assistance of the Grouse Mountain Ski Patrol, Metro Vancouver, RCMP members and a RCMP dog handler, SAR personnel were quickly deployed onto the mountain. This deployment was limited to safer areas given the considerable risk of avalanche that was communicated by Canadian Avalanche Center forecasters. In addition, a flight team was dispatched to the scene to perform a aerial reconnaissance of the terrain deemed too dangerous for SAR personnel to enter. After an assessment by NSR ground teams, a Grouse Mountains Avalanche Forecaster, and the NSR flight team, it was determined that while there was some minor slide activity, it was unlikely that a hiker was involved. This was further confirmed by interviewing other hikers on the trail.
It was noted that even though the Grouse Grind was closed with considerable to high avalanche danger, in the neighborhood of 100 hikers an hour were still venturing up the closed trail. This is completely unacceptable, and poses an extreme risk to not only themselves, but to the people who are legally obliged to come get them when disaster strikes. To be clear, there is avalanche path which runs directly across a stretch of the grind, and would carry an unlucky hiker over a 100 foot waterfall below. To make matters even worse, Grouse Ski Patrol warnings to stay off the trail for safety were blatantly ignored by two individuals who proceeded in reckless disregard of their own and others safety.
The flight team on a final recon also noted that wide spread natural avalanche activity was occurring in the gully adjacent to grind due to a sudden change in temperature. This highlights the dynamic and high risk nature of the terrain which people in running shoes and spandex are venturing through.
Concurrent to the first call, NSR was also tasked to investigate another hiker in distress on the Grind. Although later determined to be unfounded, a number of hikers ignoring the warnings were seen heading up the trail. This is were we have to plead with the public to please, please check the avalanche forecast and stay off of closed trails. A good workout can be found elsewhere that doesn’t imperil others.
It is also worth noting that later in the evening Sunday, NSR was again tasked for another out-of-bounds snowboarder on Mt. Seymour. In this case, the 13 year old male was able to get cell contact with the Seymour Ski Patrol, who were able to locate him before NSR got on scene. This really highlights the importance of education for our youth. I would truly recommend writing your child’s school, local school district and politicians to ask that a outdoor recreation component be added to their curriculum. NSR, and many other organizations can offer a lot of educational support on this. In fact, education is one of our organizations missions. A paradigm shift in thinking has to occur, and it is going to have to start with the youth.
CTV Footage Shows Natural Slide Activity During the Call