NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A warning from the busiest search and rescue team in the province as we’re in for some messy and freezing weather this weekend and into next week.
The local mountains are seeing varying levels for an avalanche risk and the trails are incredibly icy.
North Shore Rescue, which has been setting records for calls-out consistently for the last couple years, wants people to know if they go into an area that has a high avalanche risk or is too dangerous for its volunteers to reach, then they won’t.
The team will monitor the weather and keep a close eye on the situation, but Team Leader Mike Danks says they will not risk the lives of their members.
“Obviously, we’re going to do as much as we can for you but there have been some rescues where we’ve had to wait for the conditions to improve before people are sent into that location. But if you’re going to be outside the boundary zone of the local ski hill, if you will, you’re essentially going into uncontrolled avalanche terrain. That’s when you need to make sure that you have adequate training to travel in that terrain, that you understand the potential for avalanches in there, avoid avalanche terrain as much as possible and have an understanding of how to rescue someone who is caught in an avalanche to ensure you, yourself have a transceiver, a probe and a shovel with you.”
That also means a rescue may not be immediate and could potentially take days, depending on the situation.
“I think a good example of that is the avalanche we had on Runner Peak last year. There was a huge avalanche risk at the time. We had to basically hold crews from going back into the field and we had to wait an extra day for the conditions to improve before people were sent in. It’s not something we take lightly by any means but, again, rescuer safety is paramount in these situations and that’s why we really hope people take into consideration the terrain they’re going into it and what the avalanche risk is at the time for that area,” explains Danks.
He explains they never used to this, but the increasing number of treacherous calls has made things difficult.
“That’s something we’re really watching closely now is as the avalanche danger escalates, that has a huge impact on the rescue operation that’s going to happen because we’re really going to limit the number of people that go into that terrain and there will be times if the avalanche danger is too high, that we won’t be putting people into that terrain. People really need to think twice about where they’re going and what they’re potentially getting into because if it’s too dangerous, we just can’t send people in.”
As always, Danks says it’s critical you have all the right equipment and someone knows where you are and when you’ll be home.
So far this year, NSR has handled six calls which is slower than years past.