A group of seven hikers were saved by North Shore Rescue crews after getting lost on a closed trail on Grouse Mountain.
The group were attempting the Hanes Valley route but became lost in Crown Pass and contacted Grouse Mountain at around 6 p.m. on Sunday evening. The trail remains closed for the winter season due to a high risk of avalanches, says North Shore Rescue’s Mike Danks.
“We’ve had a number of fatalities over the years of people who have gone into that area during the wintertime and have done exactly what these guys did: they got lost and unfortunately the other people weren’t able to call for help,” Danks told Vancity Buzz. “These guys were very lucky. They were in an area with a cell signal.”
At about 10:30 p.m., crews managed to make voice contact with the hikers. Once they determined it was safe to enter the area, crews gave the lost group snowshoes and hiked them to safety. Danks says the hikers were “moderately prepared” for the conditions and had to be rewarmed when their members arrived to prevent hypothermia.
Danks says beyond just putting themselves at risk, hikers who get lost on closed trails put the lives of North Shore Rescue crews on the line as well.
“Sending our members in there, we have to be very careful, because, again, it’s very steep terrain back there and often there are avalanches back there because it’s gullies and narrow valleys, so we had to do a full avalanche assessment before we went in there.”
“We kind of shake our heads that we still have people doing these routes in the winter when it’s closed,” he says.
In this case, Danks says these hikers didn’t make a mistake – they blatantly disregarded the closed signs.
“If the conditions were worse and the avalanche danger were higher, we would not have sent our members in to get them. We would have waited until morning to do another assessment in daylight.”