On Wednesday morning two climbers, husband and wife, set out from Lynn Headwaters to complete the Widow Maker climbing route, near Crown Mountain. In this case, they had done the right thing and left a trip plan at home which indicated they planned to return by Wednesday evening. When they had not returned Thursday morning, the police were contacted who subsequently activated North Shore Rescue.
Given the steep, technical terrain, and variable weather, NSR deployed members with a sense of urgency to the likely areas. A helicopter (Talon Helicopters) was brought in to deploy resources into the terrain. Members were hover exited into the Crown Creek area near Crown Pass and began searching for the subjects. With a low cloud ceiling another flight team, after a number of thwarted attempts to get around the clouds, was able to fly into the Hanes Valley to check our cache area for any sign of the missing hikers.
Simultaneously NSR reached out to our partners with Metro Vancouver and Grouse Mountain Resorts to check trails and the surveillance footage from the tram. Team social media was also utilized to put the word out and elicit any information on the couples whereabouts (Thank you to everyone who shared this information with your social networks!). Ultimately the climbers were truly just delayed due to the bad weather, and were able to make there way out to Lynn Headwaters. A very positive ending.
We are in no way upset with these individuals, and applaud them for leaving a trip plan. It is better to have us activated by the police, and find out you are merely delayed, than for no one to know you are missing until it is too late. It is helpful to make your trip plan as detailed as possible and leave it with a responsible person. Some items which should be included are:
- Destination & Route (A printed out map with route drawn out is helpful)
- Time of Departure & Estimated Time of Return (include time that SAR should be contacted)
- Contact Information (Cell #)
- Equipment Inventory
- Description of Clothing (Colour, Size, Make)
- Shoe Size
- Medical Conditions & Medication
You can find a excellent sample trip plan on the AdventureSmart Website and an online version here. However, it is more than sufficient to just write it out on a piece of paper and leave it with someone responsible.
Although you should always leave a trip plan (AT A MINIMUM tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back), it is also worth having a fully charged cell phone, a battery extender, and even a satellite communications device such as a Delorme, Spot, or PLB. While a cellphone should never be relied on exclusively, if there is cell reception, it can help us find you faster. As for satellite devices, these units are relatively inexpensive, and could save your life in an emergency. Well worth the expenditure to enjoy your outdoor pursuit safely.