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Relatively prepared snowshoers celebrated for good decision making on Mount Seymour

Last Updated Jan 19, 2021 at 7:57 am PDT

A pair of snowshoers who were rescued on Mount Seymour Tuesday are being applauded for having a basic level of preparedness that SAR members say kept them safe, warm and relatively unharmed. (Courtesy Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Summary

Successful rescue on North Shore follows tragic recovery in similar situation

Pair of snowshoers had clothes, lights, appropriate footwear at time of rescue

Call early if you need help, say rescuers

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Just days after a young woman died alone in the backcountry after falling down an icy pitch near St. Mark’s Summit, two snowshoers have been rescued from similarly dangerous conditions on Mount Seymour.

Now, they’re being applauded for having a basic level of preparedness that rescuers say kept them safe, warm and relatively unharmed.

“They’re fine. They had good boots, good clothing,” says Allan McMordie, a search manager with North Shore Rescue. However, he says their snowshoes became inappropriate as the conditions changed.

They had planned to snowshoe to the Third Peak and should have turned around when their gear began to fail on the technical winter traverse, says McMordie.

“Other than that they had lights, they had their phones and gear so everything went well,” says McMordie.

The pair had become trapped between Second (Tim Jones) Peak and Third Peak after taking a couple of tumbles down icy slopes and were unable to return to the trail after losing gear, including at least one snowshoe and a pole.

Still, McMordie says they called 9-1-1 quickly to let someone know they were in trouble and a relative location.

NSR successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the West side of Tim Jones Peak early this morning. The snowshoers…

Posted by North Shore Rescue on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The pair kept their cellphones on without draining the battery despite the cold, and managed to stay in contact via text message as well.

That allowed the team to reach them quickly without too much searching and chop steps out of the ice and provide the snowshoers with micro-spikes to climb out of the gully.

“It was steep. There were some dangerous places but our guys mitigated that with equipment,” he explains, saying the team used ice axes and crampons to get around.

Often people will follow creeks or try to find their way to a road by hiking downhill. Because of the many steep drainages to the ocean, experts say you need to stay put if you get lost. Heading down will likely lead to steeper, more dangerous terrain.

“All in all, because these two snowshoers did not go down too far, they did not get themselves into really dangerous terrain. It was fairly easy to go and get them out,” says McMordie.

It’s a rare good news story following the death of 21-year-old Nikki Donnelly from Ontario last Thursday.

Donelly was snowshoeing alone on the Howe Sound Crest Trail near St. Mark’s Summit when she fell down a steep drainage and suffered major trauma. Rescuers did not find her body until late the next morning.

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While she was carrying microspikes, it’s unclear what gear was being used at the time of the fall.

She did not call 9-1-1 immediately and reached out to her boyfriend in Toronto instead, who relayed the call to officials here.

Backlash from the public has prompted a Coquitlam search and rescue member to speak out against judgement and public shaming of rescue subjects, saying it may deter others from calling for help when they need it.