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Lost hikers in Sea-to-Sky mountains found with clothes frozen solid, sneakers soaked through

Last Updated Oct 25, 2020 at 5:40 pm PDT

(Courtesy Facebook/LionsBaySAR)

The rescued pair are in their early 20s, new to the area, and didn't tell anyone they were setting off on a hike

After a lucky break Lions Bay Search And Rescue located the hikers, without that 'survivability' prospects were grim

LIONS BAY (NEWS 1130) — Two young men were found shivering — their clothes frozen solid, and their sneakers soaked through — in the Sea-to-Sky mountains Saturday, and rescue crews say if they hadn’t found a cell signal they very well could have died.

The pair are in their early 20s and new to the area. They didn’t tell anyone they were setting off on a hike up the Lions Trail, according to Lions Bay Search and Rescue.

“They were in runners, one had shorts on, very light clothing. Once they got high, they were in the snow and they became lost. They missed the trail turnoff and they ended up going up an old, disused, overgrown logging road and got completely turned around and lost,” explains Search Manager Martin Colwell.

“They were lucky because their cell phone was going in and out of coverage, and most times it didn’t get through. But luckily we got a coordinate on them, and managed to go to that location. It was a very rapid search, daylight was waning fast. We had two helicopters on and basically, we had only barely enough time to drop two teams in the field.”

Crews made their way to the two young men on slick, uneven terrain covered by roughly 20 centimetres of snow. After being given a complete change of clothes, including proper hiking boots, the pair was walked out to safety.

Late yesterday afternoon Lions Bay SAR was called out to locate and extract two lost and ill equipped hikers in the…

Posted by Lions Bay Search and Rescue onĀ Sunday, October 25, 2020

Colwell notes crews have been busy this past week, as temperatures have dropped and snow has begun to fall.

“People have been out they’ve been used to being out because of COVID, getting out of their homes, going up into the mountains, and then suddenly the weather’s changed, the season’s changed, and people are being caught out by it,” he says.

“They tend to get lost, disoriented, and then it becomes particularly urgent because they often don’t have the correct clothing, or they haven’t done the preparations they require — the planning ahead of time — and they get in serious trouble.”

The close call Saturday is a sobering reminder of the importance of being prepared, according to Colwell.

“They had no digital maps on their phones, they certainly didn’t have any hard-copy maps, they had no flashlights, and of course they had completely inadequate clothing for the winter conditions up there. So their survivability was at serious risk,” he says, stressing that no one would have known the men were on the mountain if it hadn’t been for the cell phone call.

“What would their survivability be like up there in these temperatures for multiple days in shorts and wet footwear. In many ways, it was a pretty close call.”

The advice for anyone heading out on the trails hasn’t changed with the weather, but it has become more crucial to take heed.

“Let people know, have a plan, do the research ahead of time, and of course dress properly,” Colwell says.

“We’ve had some serious incidents lately where people we’ve been looking for have not been found, and it’s only compounded by this cold snap that’s coming through. There are some very serious lessons to learn here.