On Sunday February 16, in the early afternoon North Shore Rescue was activated by North Vancouver RCMP for a lost hiker somewhere near the Skyline trail on Grouse Mountain. Without cellular contact, field teams were deployed both to the bottom and the top of the trail to bracket the subject. Shortly after deployment, hasty teams spotted tracks and began tracking the subject. Field teams also used various sound attraction techniques like loud hailers, whistles and bear bangers. It turns out that subject had continued to hike after contacting 911, and was lucky to stumble in the right direction, eventually intercepting the Baden Powell trail and making his way back to Grouse Base.
Education Point: When you call 911 for assistance, STAY PUT. While it worked out for this particular person, moving makes a subject harder to find and puts them at greater risk of ending up in dangerous terrain where a slip can result in death. Going downhill in the coastal mountains once lost is NOT a good idea. SAR volunteers are happy to help, but it is frustrating when we have to hunt a moving target.
Almost immediately after teams exited the field, another call came in for a 22 year old male with autism who had become separated from his family while hiking near Deep Cove. NSR and RCMP members responded to Deep Cove and Indian River Road. Field teams used sound attraction and scoured the trail system for a sign. Concurrently the Vancouver Police Marine Unit responded with their boat and FLIR to conduct a shoreline search. While there was a huge potential for a multi-day search, luckily, while searchers were out scouring the trails, the subject managed to find his way out to a road and take transit home. NSR and police stood down shortly after he arrived home.
Education Point: If a loved one goes missing in the outdoors, and you’re legitimately concerned that they may be lost or injured, do not wait to call Police/SAR. There is no minimum time before reporting.
On Monday February 17 at 19:00 NSR was activated by West Vancouver Police for a snowboarder who had become separated from his friends while snowboarding out-of-bounds adjacent to the Cypress Downhill area. NSR and WVPD immediately launched an investigation while Cypress Patrol (led by Chris Framptom) began sign cutting to try and locate the subject. After discovering two tracks crossing the Howe Sound Crest trail (turned out to be unassociated) NSR field teams were deployed. Multiple teams were deployed into the Howe Sound Crest/Montizambert area, while another team began hiking up the Sunset trail from Highway 99.
Teams followed tracks, performed further sign cutting, and used flares/loud hailers to try and locate the missing snowboarder. While field teams were committed to very difficult terrain, the missing individual contacted friends from Capilano Road to inform them that he had made his way out. We do not endorse doing what this individual did, AT ALL. Upon becoming lost, he kept going, and LUCKILY stumbled on a logging road in the watershed, which he followed out. Many kilometers later, he made his way back to civilization. One wrong turn or a slip would have been disastrous for this individual. This was actually quite reckless.
- Stay within the boundary unless you are equipped and prepared for backcountry (and NEVER duck rope lines – they are there for a reason)
- If you become lost, STAY PUT (this makes our job far easier)
- To stay warm, walk a track back and forth in small area
- If your friend becomes lost, do not hesitate to call for help – delays are dangerous for friends and rescuers and there is NO Charge for Rescue
In the middle of the Cypress Call, West Vancouver Police received a 911 call from a muffled voice which indicated they were in distress. SAR and police were not able to make further contact. Police with the assistance of the cellular carrier were able to Ping the cellular phone and provide search crews with rough GPS coordinates. These coordinates put the subject in the area near the top of the Sunset trail on Cypress.
Having two tracks, NSR ground teams began searching for two subjects (dividing their attention) while police and SAR management investigated the call. After tracking down information on the owner, and texting the phone repeatedly. The individual made contact with SAR and explained that he was safe, and that it was a prank by a third party while he went to grab food in the cafeteria at Cypress. At this point in time, the first subject had been located, and SAR teams were still searching for the 911 prank subject.
Members were stood down, and had to make their way out of the field. West Vancouver Police contacted the individual and ensured that a repeat incident is VERY unlikely.
Education Point: NEVER, EVER prank 911 – This could get a emergency responder injured or killed, or take away resources that may be needed to save someone else’s life.