Last night shortly after wrapping up our second Crown Mountain Medical Rescue for the weekend, at about 20:00, NSR was activated by Vancouver Police & RCMP for 2 overdue climbers suspected to be on Crown Mountain. During the rescue earlier in the day, the subject had noted that he saw these two climbers beforehand. After an initial investigation the team was activated for a general callout with ground crews responding to Grouse Mountain for deployment. Crews then spent a good portion of the night accessing Crown Mountain in snowing conditions with poor visibility.
In the early hours of the morning the initial ground team, having arrived at the summit of Crown, made voice contact with the subjects. Given the time until sunrise, the improving weather conditions, and the dangerous terrain, the ground teams were ordered to standby until first light for a helicopter extraction. In the event the weather did not clear, teams were prepared to begin a conventional rope rescue extraction.
At 06:30 this morning Talon Helicopters pilot Jarrett Lunn, flying their AStar AS350B2 (C-FTHY), arrived at our Capilano Gate SAR station and lifted off with our helicopter flight rescue team. Shortly after departure, the flight team was able to pinpoint the subjects location on a precarious ledge over a fatal drop. The helicopter rapidly rigged for a 250 foot longline rescue and two technicians were slung into the site. Since there was no place for a safe anchor and limited room, the two technicians stayed on the line during the entire rescue evolution. While one technician communicated with the pilot to maintain tension on the line, the other technician secured the hypothermic subjects in evacuation harnesses. Once secure, both subjects were subsequently airlifted to waiting BC Ambulance Paramedics. Both subjects were transported to hospital with hypothermia.
NSR ground teams were then extracted from the mountain via helicopter hover entry. A long tiring night, with significant risk to both rescuer and subject, that luckily culminated in a happy ending.
NSR would like to remind the hiking and climbing public that the Hanes Valley and Crown Mountain areas remain closed by Metro Vancouver. These back-country areas still have winter conditions and the public should respect Metro Vancouver’s closure. While the subjects had most of the 10 essentials, good footwear, and had told someone responsible when to expect them back, there were a couple of further learning points from this call:
- It is essential to carry extra warm clothing when you head up into the mountains. Even though it is relatively warm during the day, the nights are cold and the weather can change suddenly. Yesterday it went from dry spring conditions to full winter conditions in a matter of hours. Carrying warm clothes and shelter CANNOT be underestimated.
- Pay close attention to sunset time when planning your routes and make sure you have sufficient time (pick an alternate route if doubtful given the conditions).
- Communication Devices (Cell Phones & Satellite Locators like Delorme InReach or SPOT ) should be brought along on remote trips, they could save your life. Although they are not a replacement for leaving a trip itinerary with a responsible person.