Hikers rescued from snowy North Shore trail that has seen 'a number of fatalities': SAR
Two hikers who got lost in the snowy backcountry Saturday are lucky to be alive, according to North Shore Rescue.
"No exaggeration there whatsoever," says Mike Danks, team lead.
Crews were called to the Hanes Valley Trail – which is closed for the season due to dangerous conditions – with just 75 minutes of daylight left.
"Typically, you are not getting a cell signal there at all," Danks says.
"It turned out the two individuals were not injured. But they were in, potentially, an avalanche area there, there's still quite a bit of snow back there. "
Because there have been a "number of fatalities" in this area, mostly among people who found themselves lost in the snow after dark, Danks says rescuers’ strategy is to get a helicopter up in the air as soon as possible.
The two hikers were able to stay in contact with the rescue crew by text message, and were flown to safety.
But Danks says their experience is an object lesson in the dangers in the backcountry as the seasons change. Spring-like weather on the ground or in the city can make it easy to forget what’s in store at higher elevations, Danks explains.
"We want to stress to people that it's still winter conditions in the mountains," he says.
"We really encourage people to stick to the trails that are open. The ones that are closed are closed for a reason. When you're going out in these conditions, you need to be prepared for these conditions."
Preparation includes having extra layers of warm clothing, proper hiking boots, crampons, micro-spikes, and an ice axe. Knowing when the sun is going to set is also key, as many people find themselves in danger as soon as it gets dark.
Above all, Danks says it's vital to have a way to communicate if help is needed.
"We really want to stress to people to make sure you have a charged cellphone. Also, if you're going into a trail that's a bit more remote, have a satellite device. It can save a life."