VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After dealing with a record number of calls so far this year, members of North Shore Rescue are now gearing up for the winter. We check in as many parts of our backcountry are already closed to hikers and many other areas are becoming treacherous.
Team Leader Mike Danks says there is already ice on some trails. “There is about six inches of snow on the backside of Grouse Mountain.”
There may still be some sunny, warm days ahead but he adds don’t let that lull you into complacency, there’s a reason trails like those beyond Lynn Headwaters in North Vancouver are now closed.
“When there are snow conditions back there, they are susceptible to avalanche conditions. It’s not safe for people to be back there, so we just really hope that the public acknowledges that they’re closed.”
He adds North Shore Rescue is getting ready for a potentially busy winter season and he wants people should get out and enjoy the outdoors but they have to be prepared for the conditions.
“It doesn’t surprise me at this point people go out unprepared. Again, we’re doing our best to educate the public. I think people are just caught off guard because we still have some days that are nice and warm, but the sun is setting a lot earlier these days and the conditions in the backcountry are very icy and slippery and it gets very cold overnight. A lot of people are just flying out there with no equipment and not really a good idea of where they’re going and how long it’s going to take.”
“It’s not just the 10 essentials now, you need to be prepared for winter conditions in the backcountry. And that list is a lot more extensive. We’re starting to do our cache restock to make sure all the food and water we have in there is fresh and that our equipment is ready to go. We’re also going to start doing our avalanche training.”
So far this year, the team has responded to 127 calls. “That is very high for us given our yearly average is around 90 to 100 calls. It has been busy and it is frustrating.”
As the team deals with the challenges of the record-breaking year, volunteer search and rescue teams from across BC will be meeting to talk about funding and staffing issues.
Danks says they’ll be gathering to talk about a proposal for the provincial government, asking for help. “I’m hopeful we’ll come to some type of agreement on it and it can be brought forward to the provincial government. To be honest, I really hope they take a serious look at this and support their local SAR teams who are all volunteers. We’re all in the same boat. Funding is a challenge and it has been ever since we started.”
That conference call will happen sometime within the next couple of weeks.