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Melting snowpack allows NSR to find missing people in the backcountry

Last Updated May 5, 2018 at 7:40 am PDT

FILE - Search and Rescue helicopter. (Mike Lloyd, NEWS 1130 Photo)

As snow melts in the backcountry NSR members are gearing up to head into the backcountry to search for those missing

A renewed warning from search and rescue crews to be extra safe if you're hitting the mountains, despite melting snow

The NSR team has carried out a record number of calls this time of year, prompting a seasonal safety warning

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the weather warms up, local rescue crews are tapping some resources to help find those who’ve gone missing in the backcountry over the last few years.

This comes as they renew a seasonal warning to be extra safe if you’re hitting the mountains.

So far this year, North Shore Rescue Team Leader Mike Danks says they’ve carried out roughly 40 calls — which is a new record for this time of year.

He expects that number to go up with summer around the corner and he adds as they head out to search for people, they always keep an eye out for those who’ve vanished, like Carl Couture who has been missing since last Halloween.

“The challenge with Carl is we’ve been waiting for the snow to melt out at higher elevations so we can continue that search because there were some areas that got blanketed in snow shortly after he went missing.”

Danks explains the people who have yet to be found tend to be grouped in a specific area. “A lot of people who do get lost end up in the same area. So, any time we’re out on a search or a medical rescue we’re always looking for any sign of those individuals that were missing in that area last.”

He points out they had resources on the mountains last weekend and earlier this week trying to track Couture. The man’s family has also arrived on the Lower Mainland as crews attempt to find him.

The 24-year-old was last seen on Halloween of 2017 and investigators think he may have vanished on the hiking trails of Grouse Mountain. North Shore Rescue is working with Vancouver Police on this specific case.

Related article: Search on North Shore mountains serves as reminder to be prepared

In addition to Couture, there are a few other people crews are looking for including: Roy Lee and Chun Lam, who went snowshoeing in December 2016. Their car was found abandoned in the parking lot of Cypress Mountain, Neville Jewell, who went missing from the Howe Sound Crest Trail and Debbie Blair who vanished on Black Mountain in September of 2016.

As the search for those people carries on, Danks is hoping education and awareness will help prevent others from getting lost.

He’s also getting a little tired of having to repeat the same message that you have to have the right equipment to be in the backcountry, otherwise stay at home.

“People just need to keep in mind yes, the Grouse Grind is open, there’s a tiny bit of snow at the very top of the Grind but if you’re going further back, those areas are still closed because there’s a significant amount of snow back there.”

Despite the fatigue of saying the same thing over and over again, Danks knows people venturing out unprepared will continue to be an issue. “I don’t think people are doing it on purpose, it’s just people that are naive to the dangers and that’s one of our main focuses is prevention and education.”

The Grouse Grind opened May 2. It’s still a little chilly so Metro Vancouver is warning people to dress in layers, take a snack, water, pack a cellphone and wear the proper footwear.

You can also click here to check the NSR’s essentials list.