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Know where you are if you need to be helped: North Shore Rescue

Last Updated Aug 14, 2020 at 11:04 pm PDT

FILE (Courtesy Facebook/North Shore Rescue)

North Shore Rescue is urging people to be prepared after a busy Thursday and Friday

SAR teams say three hikers didn't even know which mountain they were on when they called for help Thursday

NSR is expecting it to be another busy weekend on the North Shore

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Three hikers who spent a cold night on a North Shore mountain have been found safe — but crews say they didn’t even know what mountain they were on.

North Shore Rescue says the hikers went missing on Coliseum Mountain Thursday night, with crews spotting the trio several hours later, Friday morning.

“We had a call for three hikers who were lost on what they thought was Mount Seymour. It actually turned out to be Coliseum Mountain,” North Shore Rescue’s Scott Merriman explains. “We spoke to them, they were not very well prepared but were able to spend the night.”

It was one of two calls NSR crews were busy with early Friday, with Merriman saying crews received reports around 1:30 a.m. about an overdue hiker on the Elsay Lake Trail.

That hiker had apparently began is trek at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, expecting to hike and complete the trail that same day. When he didn’t return, his girlfriend reported it to search and rescue crews.

The man was apparently found on the trail “in good condition” but didn’t want to be rescued. Merriman said he was found to be “physically well” and planned to hike back out himself.

It came after another hiker had to be long lined off the Howe Sound Crest Trail on Thursday afternoon after she had fallen and hit her head.

Squamish Search and Rescue was also called out Friday after a climber was hurt just north of Squamish. Her injuries were non-life-threatening and she was airlifted to a local hospital.

Theme of being underprepared

“Having two separate calls for, really, hikers that left on hikes that were very under-prepared and really close to daylight doesn’t happen too often,” Merriman says of the Friday morning calls.

With many of the hikers not knowing their exact location when they needed to be rescued, he says it’s vital people prepare themselves ahead of time if they plan to be outdoors.

“There was just no planning done, at least for this group of three,” Merriman explains. “They had no map of the area, they were on the wrong trail, they didn’t intend to be on that trail, and no shelter. They didn’t tell anybody where they were going, so they were fortunate that they had cell service and were able to phone out.”

Preparing means planning your day, as well as making sure you have the right equipment.

Gearing up for a busy weekend

Merriman says North Shore Rescue is always prepared to respond to any emergencies or calls on the weekends.

“Expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” he tells NEWS 1130, adding that’s how NSR members will continue to operate.

Search and rescue teams across the Lower Mainland and B.C. have been reporting a busier than usual year, despite a lack of international visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC Search and Rescue Association says it saw a nearly 50 per cent increase in calls in the first two weeks of July compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, Chilliwack Search and Rescue reported a record number of calls during the August long weekend.

North Shore Rescue is the busiest team in the province, responding to more than 90 calls by mid-August this year so far. NSR team members were out on calls almost every daily throughout July.

While the SAR team hasn’t hit a record number of calls yet, Merriman says NSR is “certainly on pace.”

Prepare for hot and cold

While the forecast is calling for high temperatures this weekend, Merriman notes it’s important to prepare for the heat — but also for cold.

“It’s going to be hot this weekend and people need to be prepared with adequate water. And, also, understand that it does get cool at night, especially if you’re up in the mountains,” he says. “It might be warm during the day, but bring an extra jacket, bring some warm clothing.”

Always tell someone where you’re going, when you expect to be back, and ensure you have the proper navigation tools.

-With files from Sonia Aslam and Kareem Gouda