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Three lost hikers prompt warning from North Shore Rescue

This year has been demanding for North Shore Rescue which has already been swamped with 48 emergency calls.

North Shore Rescue is again urging hikers to do their research and be adequately  prepared before heading onto the trail after two frustrating rescues Sunday night.

Courtesy North Shore Rescue

North Shore Rescue is again urging hikers to do their research and be adequately prepared before heading onto the trail after two frustrating rescues Sunday night.

North Shore Rescue is again urging hikers to be prepared before heading onto the trail following two frustrating rescues Sunday night.

Doug Pope, search manager for North Shore Rescue, says this year has been demanding for the volunteer-run group that has already been swamped with 48 emergency calls, mostly from hikers ill equipped for the snow conditions still lingering on the mountains this spring.

“It’s been a busy year so far and it just doesn’t seem to let up,” Pope told Metro. “Last year was a record year for us, and this is probably tracking around the same right now.”

He said the first call came around 4 p.m. when a man in his 20s from Seattle became lost while hiking down Hollyburn Mountain.

Not prepared for snow conditions, Pope said the man lost the trail on his way down, ending up on the southwest ridge of Hollyburn Mountain. Rescue crews were able to escort him out of the area around 7 p.m.

“He had been lost for at least a couple hours and then got stuck on the top of a cliff,” said Pope. “We were able to get his coordinates from a cellphone and then determined his location from that.”

North Shore Rescue responded to another emergency call around 10:40 p.m., he said.

Two people, who started their hike at 4 p.m., became lost when it got darker earlier than they expected. Despite bringing flashlights with them, the pair lost the trail on the way down, ending up in the area of Suicide Creek.

“They were following tracks in the snow with their flashlight,” said Pope. “But it turned out they weren’t following a person track. It was a bear track.”

Despite having poor cell phone reception, rescue crews were able to text the pair and determine their location, he said. They were escorted to safety around 1:30 a.m.

While the hikers were somewhat prepared for the conditions with hiking boots and flashlights, Pope said they still started their hike too late in the day.

The rescues were just the latest for the volunteer search-and-rescue group, which has been increasingly overrun with emergency calls in recent years. 

Pope said the problem is getting worse as interest in hiking seems to be growing, but people aren't getting the message to be properly prepared for any conditions they might encounter.

“I’ve been hiking the North Shore Mountains my whole life, and I’ve never seen it close to the number of people who are out in the trails in the last two years,” he said. “But it’s not often that you see people that are well prepared. It’s definitely not the norm.”

He urged hikers to do their research before hitting the trail. That includes packing essentials like water and food, extra clothing, a flashlight, a signalling device like a whistle or flare, fire starters, shelter, a first-aid kit, and an extra battery for a cell phone or a satellite phone.

“Although it’s nice and warm and sunny in the city, there is still snow up on the local mountains,” he said. “Be prepared to be able to navigate in those conditions.”

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