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North Shore Rescue issues warning, on pace to set new record

Last Updated Oct 26, 2020 at 2:32 pm PST

FILE - Two young men were found shivering in the Sea-to-Sky mountains Saturday. (Courtesy Facebook/LionsBaySAR)

North Shore Rescue on pace to break a record set in 2018

The COVID-19 pandemic combined with the cold weather is hard on team members: North Shore Rescue

Many of the rescues are preventable if people planned and were prepared, says NSR leader

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Someone is going to die.

That’s the dire warning from a local search and rescue team following a weekend of call-outs in frigid temperatures.

Among the rescues was a pair of young men found shivering — their clothes frozen solid, and their sneakers soaked through — in the Sea to Sky mountains on Saturday, and rescue crews said if they hadn’t found a cell signal they could have died. The two were new to the area and didn’t tell anyone where they were going, according to Lions Bay Search and Rescue.

Mike Danks, team leader with North Shore Rescue, adds they had three call-outs on Saturday.

The first was for a man in his early 20s who was stuck in the Hanes Valley. Danks explains the man was unprepared for the conditions, didn’t have food or water or a light source.

“A few people hiked by him and were very concerned about his well-being. They tried to get him to turn around, he wouldn’t, so we ended up sending a team to assist him. The reminder for people is the Hanes Valley area is going to be closed because there’s a lot of snow back there. It’s very dangerous. We still have people [from previous years] we haven’t found in that area which is really sad. I really hope people start paying attention to the calls that we have because they are a repeat of the ones we’ve had the previous week.”

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

He feels people who are heading into BC’s beautiful backcountry are being naive.

“The sun is going down a lot earlier and people are not bringing a light source, they’re not bringing extra clothing or enough food and water and it scares me because one of these times we’re not going to be able to get there in time and someone is going to lose their life and that’s when people start to learn the lesson but we haven’t had that this year, thankfully.”

Danks explains many of the calls they deal with are preventable.

“With the recent calls — they got very lucky that they were found and escorted out safely but we’re seeing temperatures up to -7 degrees and colder back there at night so it’s an extreme difference between when you’re in the sun and when that sun goes down. It’s very cold and you’re very alone back there.”

NSR says the issue with the high number of operations they’re carrying out, it strains resources and combined with COVID-19, it makes things incredibly difficult.

“It’s tough on our members because when you get a call in the Hanes Valley, you’re committing yourself for the night, so not only does it take you out for that night but also the next day. And the big challenge we have is it’s dangerous because we’re sending people into those areas, in the dark in icy conditions, it takes a lot of resources to do that.”

Danks says North Shore Rescue is on track to set a new record for call-outs this year. The previous record was set in 2018 with 144 calls. So far this year, they’re at 130.