OK Vancouver hikers – we need to have a talk – it is winter in the mountains, and apparently most people do not know this.
On Seymour today I witnessed some very troubling things. The vast majority of people on the hill were utterly unprepared for the conditions. The parking lot was full and there were probably hundreds of people on the hill with most hikers prepared for summer hiking conditions. The mountain is covered in snow and its bone chilling cold on top with the wind (night will be even more freezing). The trail is compact snow and ice – its extremely slippery.
I witnessed all of the following and more –
- Lots of leather street shoes with zero tread
- Capri pants
- Cotton clothes – lots of hoodies – this is great for downtown but a wet cotton hoodie will kill you in the mountains – helping you freeze to death very quickly
- Vans and other skate shoes
- Cowboy boots
- Lots of running shoes – these are not appropriate for winter hiking
- Gum boots
- No back packs
- No jackets
- No gloves
- No micro-spikes or poles
- No toques
- No maps or knowledge of the trail
It is winter up there so everyone should be prepared which includes the below list which is the minimum you should bring –
- Proper winter hiking boots
- Proper hiking non-cotton warm socks
- NON-cotton clothing – poly-pro etc.
- Change of base layer clothing for when it gets wet
- Parka jacket – aka puffy jacket
- Shell jacket
- Pants – non cotton
- Gore-tex over pants
- Mittens and or winter gloves
- Food and water
- Some first aid gear and navigation equipment – GPS, map etc.
Other considerations include bringing an ice-axe, crampons and other winter equipment. If you are venturing into areas that might require an ice-axe please take a mountaineering course first.
Give yourself enough time – it gets dark very early these days. Prepare properly – that means reviewing your planned hike and description – there are plenty of good web sites that discuss hikes in Vancouver – and ensure you and everyone in your group have the appropriate equipment, fitness level and skill for the hike. Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back. Turn your phone onto airplane mode when you start hiking – in case you need to call for help – but do not rely on your phone – coverage is spotty at best. Don’t hike alone!
Last year at this time a hiker fell on the way to 3rd Pump on Seymour and sustained a broken neck, brain swelling, broken arm, and broken ribs causing a pneumothorax and a collapsed lung – he was in rough shape and had we not been able to get him out very quickly he could have died. This area is not a walk in the park.
We would really prefer that our call stats do not increase for the year – we don’t need any more searches, medical rescues or fatalities.
So please share with your friends – the message is obviously not getting out there.
Thank you for reading and passing this message on!