On January 6 at 1630, North Shore Rescue was activated by North Vancouver RCMP for a missing hiker on Mount Seymour. The subject, a young female visiting Canada from Britain, set out to hike to Dog Mountain. While she was actually quite well prepared, she became turned around in the network of lower Seymour trails.
She punched the location into a Metro Map App and was given a bus route to what she thought was the trailhead. Let off at Indian River Drive in the morning, she hiked down to Quarry Rock, and then followed the road/trail network from the 5km mark on Mount Seymour Road. This put her on a mountain bike trail, which led her to the snowline, where she lost the trail.
At 1600 she called 911, and was patched through to a NSR SAR manager at 1630. Her international cellphone made it somewhat difficult to establish and maintain contact. From the information she provided, the area was localized to the Boulder Creek area of Mount Seymour. Luckily Talon Helicopters had an aircraft in the vicinity (it had been providing support for NSR radio repeater maintenance earlier in the day) and was scrambled back to the scene. The pilot, Kelsey Wheeler, flying up the drainage was able to spot her flashlight and provide GPS coordinates for ground crews.
By 1800, NSR hasty teams (lightly equipped fast moving ground teams, backed up by heavily equipped members) were in the area and launching parachute flares to localize on her position. The subject was located shortly after 2000 and was evacuated back to the roadway by 2130.
A couple big points out of this SAR call:
- The subject was well equipped with the ten essentials with one exception. The GPS app on her phone failed her. A cell phone is no replacement for a map, compass, GPS and training.
- Without rapid access to a helicopter, this call would have taken all night leading well into the next day.
- She went alone and no one really knew where she was going. Make sure you leave a trip plan.