Follow up from Why We Don’t Charge
During the Tom Billings Search on January 4, NSR members in the Hanes Valley came across two young men in their early 20’s who were intending to climb Crown Mountain. This was relayed to me in the Command Post. I became very concerned as to what these two were attempting, given the rock hard snow conditions (blue ice in places). I had our flight recon team drop down and intercept them with instructions to assess their skill and equipment. If necessary, they were to ask them to stop their ascent if necessary. As it turned out they had no ice axes, crampons, harnesses, ropes or helmets. They had overnight camping gear and a single pair of snowshoes between them which would be of no help. My flight team diplomatically but firmly told them to stop here a camp and go back out the same route in next morning. Emergency contact info was obtained. They agreed to this request. Keep in mind this is a seasonally closed backcountry area (closed by Metro Vancouver Parks).
When our flight team left they dropped their packs and then went ahead up the steep, icy snowfield laced with rocks to Crown Pass. I had a bad feeling about these two so I had the helicopter monitored them. When the chopper came back they could not see them in the Hanes Valley and later spotted them in Crown Pass. Concurrently a fresh pair tracks could be seen up Crown. They were then spotted sliding back down the rock filled steep snowfield into Hanes Valley. At this point I had had enough. I turned command temporarily over to my assisting SAR MGR and flew to the Hanes Valley with senior rescue leader Mike Danks on board also. We saw their slide tracks and then spotted them slowly moving towards their packs again. Over the helicopter speaker they were told to stay there for the night and return back via Hanes to Lynn Headwaters. They acknowledged. We had to depart due to impending darkness.
I was very upset over this reckless behaviour since we were already looking for another young man ( Tom Billings) who had been told twice on Nov 25 not to do this Hanes Route.
For the first time in my long career, I contacted the emergency contacts (their parents) that night and respectfully laid out what happened. The parents were very upset to hear what had happened. They wanted to know what do to to change this behavior. My answer was they need to take a Mountaineering Course and gave the Canada West Mountain School as an example.
This is where this behaviour needs to addressed not through fines and charges as this will not change these two young men’s views on mountain safety.
Our Team stands fast on this belief as fines and charges will only create more problems and put our members at even greater risk.