Scrambling Accidents

2 Missing Persons – Saxifrage Cassiope Scrambling- September 6, 2010
This is a heart breaking story about 2 people who went missing, most likely during a scrambling trip to Cassiope Saxifrage. The most comprehensive information is from a Pique Magazine article.

Old Settler Accident – July 19, 2008
A scrambling trip from the North Shore Hikers ended up in this accident:
Serious incidents pose challenges for KHSAR
Agassiz Harrison Observer – July 22, 2008 7:00 PM
As the Dragon Boat races were winding down on Saturday, July 19, Kent Harrison SAR was paged to respond to an injured climbed near the summit of ‘The Old Settler’ at 6,500′. The climber had fallen 100′ and had suffered a broken leg [details of the injury may not be accurare, the leg may not have been broken – matt ]. Luckily he had landed between the rock and the ice in what is commonly described as a ‘moat’. A fall on the ice itself would have seen the climber likely fall to his death. A technical response by helicopter was launched in conjunction with Chilliwack SAR. A technique known as ‘HETS’ (human external transport) was used to fly a rescuer in to the subject using a line suspended below the helicopter. 3 Kent Harrison SAR volunteers are licensed to perform this technique in conjunction with members rom Chilliwack SAR. The subject was airlifted to the Chilliwack airport where he was handed over to paramedics.

Black Tusk – 14 July 2007 Climber injured by Trundling
Here is a perfect example of why it is not cool to trundle: click here.

A 24 year old hiker fell approximately 10m while attempting to descend off of the Black Tusk in Garibaldi Park on Saturday afternoon. The individual was treated at the scene for a laceration to his knee, a suspected neck and minor head injuries. Due to the nature of his injuries and the terrain where the hiker had fallen he had to be removed from the scene by Helicopter External Transportation System (HETS). This was the first operational use of Squamish SAR’s newly acquired long line equipment. The patient was transferred to a second helicopter and then flown to a waiting BC ambulance in the Rubble Creek parking lot.

September – 2006 Fatal fall on the Lions
Matthew Ramsey, The Province, Sunday, September 17, 2006
CREDIT: The Province, Handout/Brandon Thiessen
Steve Dirksen fell to his death in a climbing accident on the west peak of the Lions on Thursday when a rock in his left hand came away. He was 25.
Steve Dirksen’s lifelong friend and hiking partner said his buddy didn’t make a sound as he slipped and fell to his death Thursday.
Colin Willems, 23, said Dirksen was attempting to climb down a three-metre face on the west peak of the Lions when a rock in his left hand came away.
“It held for me, but it didn’t for Steve,” a grieving Willems said.
Dirksen, 25, fell to a sloped granite ledge then “just slid off.”
“He was on his stomach and had his hand out, but it was all smooth,” Willems said.
North Shore Search and Rescue search manager George Zilahi said Dirksen fell at least 100 metres before striking an outcropping and then falling at least another 75 metres. His body came to rest on a patch of snow at the base of the drop. His injuries were catastrophic; searchers who saw him from a helicopter before dawn on Friday determined the fall was not survivable.
Willems said the pair summited at about 1:30 p.m. They smoked victory cigars then set off for the descent, hoping to finish by 5 p.m.
Visibility was poor and the pair soon realized they’d lost the trail. They had to free climb down a small cliff first in order to get back to the summit and reacquire the marked route. They were not roped off because the cliff was not overly challenging and the route itself is manageable without ropes, Willems said.
“It was so foggy, I had no idea how far it was,” Willems said. “We didn’t expect to be in such a sketchy situation.”
Willems was standing to one side of the slippery ledge when his friend fell. He yelled out, but there was no answer from Dirksen, so Willems tied a jacket as a marker, found the route and ran down the mountain. Just before the trail head, he met another hiker who called 911.
The steep and rugged terrain, combined with cloudy conditions, meant helicopters could not land right away. SAR personnel had to hike to the body and carry it down the slope before it was airlifted out by helicopter at about noon Friday.
Willems said he and Dirksen had discussed death the morning of the hike. The well respected and much loved Cactus Club sous chef told Willems his faith gave him strength.
“He wasn’t afraid of death because he knew he was going to be with God when he died,” Willems said. “He was a Christian and he lived it out.”
Willems, who was Dirksen’s roommate until recently, said the one consolation is that his pal felt no pain. Dirksen, Willems said, was always quietly strong and he met his death that way.
Close friend Blair Cheredaryk, 25, remembered Dirksen as a young man with a thirst for life, a taste for great food and an easy smile. Cheredaryk, Willems and Dirksen all attended the same high school in St. Catharines, Ont.
“He was a sunny spot around. He would never go against his own integrity. He never tried to be better than anybody,” Cheredaryk said. “He took advantage of life. Not a week would go by when he wouldn’t be out doing something.”
“I don’t think I ever saw him not smiling,” Cheredaryk said.
Dirksen’s father flew to Vancouver Friday night. Steve Dirksen’s many friends are now planning a memorial.
The greatest hazards for hikers to be aware of at this time of year are diminishing light and highly variable weather conditions, Zilahi said, adding that anyone heading in to the mountains needs to consider a wide range of scenarios and be ready for them.

© The Vancouver Province 2006

Later Summer 2006
Someone had a bad accident on Joffre Peak while attmepting the southeast face as described in the scrambles guidebook. Apparently they slipped on snow or ice and slid some distance. I believe a leg was broken in the process. If anyone has any details about this incident please contact Matt Gunn through the “Contact” link at the bottom of this page.
There are some photos from this accident here, here and here.

Spring 2006
Apparently someone fell on the South Twin Sister scramble and injured themself. I believe the person was from Vancouver Island. If anyone has any details about this incident please contact Matt Gunn through the “Contact” link at the bottom of this page.

August 2005 – Sky Pilot
August 20, 2005
15 Squamish SAR and 3 North Shore Rescue members responded to rescue an injured male from a snowfield just below the 6000 foot level on Sky Pilot Mountain. The individual was lifted from the mountain by helicopter and transferred to BCAS.

More Details from the victim: The date was mid August. On the way up we encountered the closed gate but that was not an issue as we were planning to spend the night at the base of the talus field. The overall approach took longer than we expected (based on your figures) so it was early afternoon before we had pitched tents and started to head up the hill. I found the glacier walk slippery at best and would have thought a recomendation to pack crampons (we had ice axes and a rope) would have been useful particullarly given what happened later. At the base of the Pink Wall we decided that we were pushing it for time so decided to have another go in the morning as we had no real time pressures and were feeling a bit tired anyway. On the way down my partner decided to go out onto the head of the glacier , an obvious right hand facing corridor. His thoughts were to short cut the last downclimb on rock to the glacier. I followed him out along the crest and it was not nice. The axe was not a great tool as the ice was super hard. Then my feet went and I was off. I attempeted an arrest but failed as the axe would not grab. I slammed back first into a 4 foot deep V in the ice (not called a crevasse?) and stopped instantly quiet stunned. My speed was later estimated to be around 50 km/hr when I hit.

Sensing full movement I tried to get up but collapsed on what felt like a displaced hip joint. I waved to my partner who was maybe 50 meters up slope but knew I was not in good shape so I strarted going through my pack to get more clothes on and prepare for the worst before shock set in. I stried to stand up again and the hip popped into place and then out again so I could see I wasn’t going to be walking out. In the mean time my partner was doing his own thinking and he managed to get a signal on his cell and proceded to alert Squamish SAR as to our plight. Then he self belayed down to me with the optimistic news that help was on the way. At that point it was clear that we were not in a good position as below us was
a expanding series of crevasses crossing the fall line so lowering down was not an option and going back up the glacier not so doable either.

In about 1.5 hours the helicopter arrived and, in a super professional, way got me off the glacier and down to Britannia Beach then by ambulance to Squamish Hopsital and then later to VGH where I was diagnosed with a fractured hip and a fractured vertabrae.

Lessons learned : First we are still debating the outcome if we had been out of phone range. Spending the night on the glacier was a certainty and would have been OK as our gear was less than and hour away. The walk out would have been tough. Second, IMHO, crampons always if there are glaciers to be crossed particullarly in summer. You might wonder why I needed this experience to come to this conclusion and therein lies one of the funny things about climbing. I am an expereinced multi pitch trad rock climber from Australia and this was my first time on ice. My partner was the opposite – lots of snow and ice but not much rock. As a result we kind of assumed the other a) knew what they were doing and b) would advise the other if they were going astray. In practice this did not happen so maybe we could put this in the “new partner” category of “when things go wrong”. To avoid this in the future I intend to take a first responder course as well as to get professional instruction on ice. This was I will not need to rely on assumptions in these areas.

Other than that it was a pretty stunning scramble and I will be back to finish it off.

Written by: Scott, Vancouver

Old Accident Reports – Mostly from the CAA database.

Cheam Injury and Resuce

By Mike Chouinard

Search and rescue workers were able to make a dramatic rescue on Mount Cheam in the early hours of Sunday morning, managing to get a badly injured Vancouver man flown out to hospital.

The man, a 25-year-old, was part of a small group that had hiked up the mountain on Saturday but was late in coming down that afternoon.

“The accident must’ve taken place sometime around seven or eight o’clock ,” Gary Armstrong, Chilliwack Search & Rescue president. “They were a little worried about time.”

The hikers then went off the marked trail to try to get off the mountain before dark. It was then the victim fell and slid down a steep slope. Armstrong figures the terrain and loose rock played a factor in the hiker’s accident, which caused head and spinal injuries.

“The area he was coming through is very steep-lots of loose rock,” he said.

The man also severed an artery in his arm but his friends were able to stop the bleeding by applying a tourniquet.

Search and rescue was called out late Saturday night. Rescuing the hiker was particular difficult though, according to Armstrong, because of his location, and the operation took several hours.

“This guy was in a gully and on a very steep slope,” he said. “Getting at him was very difficult.”

The man had to be removed from the gully with ropes and then down the mountain to a more accessible clearing. This was complete by about 3:30 a.m. When light started to appear, a helicopter rescue team longlined the hiker, carrying him below the craft to get him off the mountain, and then brought him to a waiting BCAS air ambulance team, which flew him out to hospital.

Armstrong was not sure about the man’s current condition at press time but was optimistic he could make a recovery, though he said there were times during the rescue things did not look good. The hiker required lots of oxygen bottles and an IV line during the rescue.

“To be perfectly honest, it was touch and go with him.”

Armstrong said the search and rescue crew trains with longlining exercises two or three times a year to make sure they are ready for such a situation as what occurred on Mount Cheam on the weekend. The team is one of five in the province with specialized helicopter teams able to rescue victims from inaccessible, treacherous terrain.

To prevent these serious accidents, Armstrong reminds any hikers to be aware of their abilities and experience and not put themselves in an area where they might be in danger. While the hikers in this case was relatively inexperienced, Armstrong said they handled the situation well by being able to find their friend, apply first-aid and light a fire once it got dark.

published on 08/09/2005


WedgeMountain – Avalanche in june

This climber was seriously injured by an avalanche during a June ascent of Wedge. Be aware that early season scrambling can easily lead to avalanche terrain.

Description: On June 24th, two climbers were descending the West Couloir of Wedge Mountain near Whistler, BC. At 1350, a Class 2 avalanche hit the climbers, sweeping them down the gully. One climber suffered multiple fractures including a broken femur. His partner went to Wedge Lake where he used a VHF radio to call for help. The call was picked up by a taxi driver in Whistler who notified the RCMP. A team from Whistler Search and Rescue flew to the deposit and lifted the injured climber to hospital.

Analysis: The radio call played an essential part in the rescue. “If it had been delayed by five hours, I think the injuries were serious enough that he might have expired.” Radios and, increasingly, cell phones are being used to call for help avoiding the often slow trip to the trailhead.

Rescue Mode: helicopter


Slalok – Fall on rock

I’m not sure what route this person was trying on Slalok. The victim fell on rock and suffered broken bones, cuts and bruises and internal injuries and severe hypothermia.

Description: In late September, K.I., an inexperienced climber in his early 30’s was on Slalok Mountain , a 2,650 metre peak about 30 kilometres east of Pemberton. He was ascending rock that was covered with snow and verglas but which was otherwise easy. In the early afternoon, at the 200 metre level, he slipped and fell. He sustained multiple injuries, including broken bones, cuts and bruises and internal injuries and was unable to descend. A storm kept him stranded for two days and three nights until Whistler Search and Rescue was able to use a long line to evacuate him to a lower elevation. There he was transferred to another helicopter and transferred to the hypothermia unit at Lion’s Gate Hospital . Hospital staff who examined him on arrival estimate that he was within two hours of death from severe hypothermia and injuries.

Analysis: Easy rock can become very dangerous when covered with a thin layer of ice or snow. Climbers climbing alone should expect the worst and be especially cautious.

Rescue Mode: helicopter


Mount Niobe – Fall and injury while glissading

Glissading on steep snow sloeps can quickly lead to a loss of control. This person ran into a rock after falling during a glissade and sustained injuries. IT is important to have an ice axe and to know how to use it.

Description: On July 27, 1963, T.S. (20) a prospective member of the Alpine Club of Canada, was one of a party of 12 to glissade a steep but smooth and even snow slope on a small glacier. Elevation was about 5,000 feet. He had little snow experience and when his turn came to go down unroped, was highly nervous. He lost his balance, turned over forwards and sideways and smashed his kneecap on a small rock estimated to be 15 feet out of the vertical fall line. He was carried to Lake Lovely Water on a stretcher of small trees and flown out from the ACC cabin the next day by a Royal Canadian Air Force Helicopter

Analysis: (Shwabe) “Had the leader known T.S. better, he would have descended with him roped up all the way down the glacier”

Rescue Mode: party

Source: Trip leader, Nick Shwabe


Mount Niobe – serious injury during self arrest practice

This individual was practicing self arrest with an ice axe and ended up tearing a hole in his abdomen.

Description: On September 20, 1970 , N.E. (23) and 12 others were practicing ice axe arrests on hard snow. The immediate slope was steep but the run out was ample. It was chosen specifically to practice arrest. Everyone was doing simple arrests, but N.E. was ambitious and eager and tried a more advanced arrest described in Freedom of the Hills (on the back with the head downhill). While flipping over he lost control and dropped his axe, the axe was momentarily vertical and at that moment he fell and pierced his side. P.S. went up to him and asked if he was okay. He said ‘yes’, but when P.S. raised his sweater he saw a great gaping hole in his right upper abdomen. The group laid him out on an ensolite pad as there was no way to move him and covered him with jackets. He was in great pain due to the bile and blood released into his abdominal cavity , so he was given a Darvon compound and 0.5 of a grain of codeine which was repeated later in the day. The accident occurred at about 1000 at about 5,000 feet above the nearest road and about 7 miles from it. That distance was covered by members of the party in about one and a half hours to get help. The patient was evacuated by helicopter by about 1500. He was operated on within an hour of arriving in the hospital and spent approximately three weeks in the hospital recovering. He was almost completely recovered by December.

Analysis: One should gradually develop competence in the various ice axe arrest techniques, and learn to walk before one runs!

Rescue Mode: helicopter


West Lion Incidents

Many incidents occur on the popular route leading to the West Lion

Injury due to a fall on the route:

Description: Background: The mountains of the Pacific Northwest have received record snowfalls during the previous winter months. Successive storm fronts deposited a deep snowpack in the mountains and delayed the onset of the Spring-Summer hiking season. Now clear summer weather has finally arrived many hikers have taken to the mountain trails – only to find them buried under feet of hard, icy snow. Within the last three weeks the Lower Mainland region of B.C. has experience four incidents of hikers, all ill equipped for the conditions, taking uncontrolled slides on the steep, slippery slopes. On one of these incidents a woman struck a tree and, after being rescued, died a few hours later in hospital. At 6 pm on Sunday August 1st 1999 Lions Bay SAR received a call from the Squamish RCM Police. A cell phone call had been received from somewhere in the mountains above Lions Bay of an injured female hiker. The report, in extremely broken English, appeared to indicate the hiker had either a broken leg or had undetermined injuries to her chest. The Lions Bay SAR team was immediately activated, followed by calls for two helicopters and mutual aid from the neighbouring North Shore Rescue Team. As the first two hasty teams prepared to be flown into the general search region attempts were made to communicate with the injured party, apparently a member of a group of four hikers. Poor cell phone reception in the mountain region, combined with what appeared to be very scant knowledge of English, made it impossible to immediately determine either the party’s location or the nature of the subject’s injuries. The first team to fly over the route of the hiking trail to the West Lion peak, spotted the group of hikers, high on a steep snow slope at the base of a ridge leading to the West Lion. As the first team landed on the ridge a second team was prepared with more ropes, stretchers and first aid equipment. At about the same time as the first team reached the subject the backup team from the North Shore Rescue, including a life-support paramedic, landed the second helicopter on the ridge. An initial assessment of the female subject indicated that she had struck a tree with her chest, which stopped an uncontrolled 40m slide. She had experienced some difficulty in breathing but now seemed to have recovered somewhat. It was decided that, given the limited remaining daylight, it would be quicker to have her, and her one female and two male friends, walk up to the waiting helicopters, with the aid of a fixed rope. Once a fixed rope was prepared the subjects were placed in harness’s and walked, accompanied, up the slope, attached by prussik loops to the fixed line. As soon as the injured female reached the ridgeline she was examined again by the paramedics and immediately flown to Lions Gate Hospital for treatment. As the sun dropped to the horizon of the western mountains the teams hurried to get all the subjects up to the waiting helicopters. In the last few minutes of daylight the remaining subjects, and then the SAR team members, were all quickly transported down to the Lions Bay SAR Base. Next morning reports from the hospital indicated that the female subject had suffered five fractured ribs and was being kept under close observation, to minimize the risk of any further complications.

Many people getting lost on the trails:

Description: 8 Lions Bay SAR members responded to rescue a hiker who reported himself lost on the Lions Trail. Volunteers located the person and escorted them off the trail and took him to a transit stop.

Description: Two backpackers got an unexpected early-morning wake-up call from North Shore Rescue (NSR) after the hikers’ car was found left overnight on Cypress Bowl Road without any notice inside of where they had gone. Tim Jones, NSR spokesman, said NSR received a call at about 1:30 a.m. on April 28 after Cypress Mountain security staff notified police about the parked car. Jones said the car was left in an area that is clearly marked with signs notifying drivers that if a car is left overnight it will initiate a search, in case someone is lost or injured in the backcountry. Searchers found various contact numbers for the hikers in the car, so several messages were left, but searchers were unable to reach anyone for information about the hikers. Soon after, a full-blown search got underway with 15 NSR search members and a helicopter to drop the team members in different areas of the mountain around the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Searchers were looking for tracks left by the hikers when the group received a call just after 6 a.m. , from a friend of the hikers who had been one of the people contacted earlier from the list of numbers found in the car at Cypress Road . The friend told searchers the hikers were a Vancouver man in his 30s and another man, also in his 30s, who was visiting from another province. The friend said the two men had gone on a backpacking trip to the Lions, had left Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. , and were expected back Thursday afternoon. Jones said NSR members were still concerned for the safety of the hikers because they could not determine what equipment the hikers had brought with them for the trip, so continued the search. The hikers were spotted by the NSR helicopter team north of Cypress Bowl. An NSR team was lowered from the helicopter to the site and the backpackers were then brought back to the helicopter and taken off the mountain. He said the men were fortunate that they stopped and NSR teams located them because the trip back could have been very dangerous for them.

Analysis: Jones said the hikers were “nowhere near” prepared to deal with the snow and ice on the mountain and one was wearing running shoes. He said the men stopped well short of their destination because they didn’t have the proper gear to go farther, and would have encountered knee-deep snow that becomes hard as rock at night. “Unless you’re out in that area with crampons, with ice axes and snowshoes you shouldn’t be out there,” said Jones, adding that the two rescued hikers didn’t have any of the recommended gear. Jones said anyone planning a similar trip into the backcountry is asked to leave a note in their car with details of their trip, such as time of departure, time of return and planned route. Ten essential items that no hiker or climber should be without. 1 – Map and know how to read it. 2 – Compass and know how to use it. 3 – Water and a way to purify it. 4 – Extra Food. 5 – Rain/Snow Gear, warm hat and extra clothing. 6 – Firestarter and matches for warmth and signalling. 7 – First aid kit. 8 – Army knife or multi-purpose tool. 9 – Headlamp or Flashlight, extra bulbs, extra batteries. For finding your way in the dark and signaling for help. 10 – Sun screen and sun glasses. Following this list could have prevented the majority of hiking incidents.

Description: “A.P. doesn’t like being lumped in with the poorly equipped, t-shirt shorts and running shoes brigade run down by Lions Bay Search and Rescue. Last week, search and rescue spokesman Owen Jones told the News some people being rescued on their way to or from the Lions fit the above the description. He added that they didn’t carry flashlights. A.P. pleads partially guilty on the last charge. But says his and M.F. 100 pounds of gear, four pairs of shoes, extra clothes, hard hats, first aid training, ropes, tent, food, and the detailed trip plans they left with others means they were prepared. The problem, he said, was that when it became dark on the descent, they discovered their flashlight was busted. The lens, cover and bulb had all been smashed since they left on the hike at 7 a.m. that morning. The result was Lions Bay volunteers were called out to search for the pair, although they weren’t lost, said A.P. “We weren’t being baby sat,” A.P. said in response to Jones’s comment that volunteers had become involved in search and rescue to help prepared hikers, not the ill-prepared hikers they’ve been called out repeatedly to search for recently. A.P. agreed, however, that he and M.F. should have had at least one flashlight between them. The t-shirts and shorts comment, however, “makes us look like real jokers,” he said. A.P., 35, said he has been climbing seriously since January of 1995 and hiking all his life.”

Description: 4 Lions Bay SAR members responded to rescue an injured hiker in the area of Lions Trail in Lions Bay . The hiker was rescued and carried out to BCAS for transport to hospital.

Analysis: Trips or slips resulting in leg injuries are common hiking accidents. Ten essential items that no hiker or climber should be without. 1 – Map and know how to read it. 2 – Compass and know how to use it. 3 – Water and a way to purify it. 4 – Extra Food. 5 – Rain/Snow Gear, warm hat and extra clothing. 6 – Firestarter and matches for warmth and signalling. 7 – First aid kit. 8 – Army knife or multi-purpose tool. 9 – Headlamp or Flashlight, extra bulbs, and extra batteries for finding your way in the dark and signaling for help. 10 – Sun screen and sun glasses. Following this list could have prevented the majority of hiking incidents.

Description: Lions Bay Search & Rescue were notified that two teenage males were overdue from a day hike the previous day to the Lions Peaks , near Vancouver , British Columbia . The boys, aged seventeen and eighteen, had cell-phoned home at noon Tuesday, stating that they were high on the Lions Trail, after which they could no longer be contacted by phone. When they did not return home late that night the parents called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who initiated the callout of Lions Bay Search & Rescue at 7am Wednesday. An RCMP helicopter, with a spotting team, were assigned to the known danger spots of Harvey Creek (canyon) and the steep rock cliffs of the East and West Lion while a reconnaissance team was sent to check all the lower- elevation logging roads leading to the trailheads. Assignments were prepared for all the major trails leading into the region of the Lions Peak ‘s, including the Howe Sound Crest Trail. At 0916 hrs the recce team reported finding the teenagers on the logging road, returning to their vehicle. It seems they had lost their way in an overgrown section of the Howe Sound Crest Trail near Harvey Pass and had spent the night in the emergency shelter on Mount Brunswick ‘s Magnesia Meadows. At dawn they followed the trail North before descending the steep route down towards Lions Bay ,where the recce team met up with the hikers. The teenagers were well equipped with good hiking boots, adequate clothing and a guide book, and were none the worse except for a few mosquito bites.

Description: 8 Lions Bay SAR members responded to search for a missing hiker in the North Shore Mountains . The individual became separated from another couple while hiking. SAR members located the individual at the base of the trail system. He was uninjured and in good spirits.

Analysis: Hikers are often the subjects of search and rescue missions as a result of being overdue on a route. Sometimes this results from underestimating the time or difficulty of the route. Sometimes delay is a result of poor weather or conditions or from routefinding errors. In any event, leaving word with a responsible party or registering in as to your anticipated route and return time has the positive effect that someone starts looking for you. Try to be realistic in your estimates to avoid having a search start unnecessarily. You should be aware that darkness or poor weather may prevent or delay the start of a search and rescue. Be prepared to spend the night out in any event.

Rescue Mode: self rescue


LakeLovely Water Approach Accident – fall in gully

This individual appears to have injured themselves on a steep section of the trail into Lake Lovely Water.

Description: 7 Squamish SAR and North Shore SAR responded to rescue a climber that fell 10 metres into a gully near Lake Lovely Water. RCC was requested to provide support in the form of a helicopter from 442 Sqdrn. A cormorant was dispatched and after arrival on scene it was determined to conduct a rescue at first light. The individual was successfully recovered and transported to waiting ambulance for transport to hospital.

Analysis: A local guidebook describes the trail thusly: ” The trail to Lake Lovely Water is even steeper than those to Wedgemount Lake and Mt. Roderick . In places, you can look down and see the hiker behind you – between your legs. The trail is narrow, often no wider than two boots, but it’s almost brush free and despite the radical grade it’s in decent condition. Otherwise this trip would be a climb instead of a hike. Still, some hikers might be uncomfortable traversing the steepest slopes next to the creek gorge, where you have to grab hold of roots and haul yourself up…”

Rescue Mode: Squamish and North Shore SAR


Golden Ears Incidents – 2 Fatalities

Here are a bunch of accidents that occured on the Golden Ears scramble:


Description: 15 Ridge Meadows SAR members responded to rescue an injured male who had fallen down a cliff on Golden Ear Mnt. The subject was rescued and transferred over to BCAS.

Analysis: Hikers get into more difficult terrain than they can handle either through overconfidence or through routefinding errors. Parties often become stranded through exceeding their abilities, getting off route, after losing necessary equipment or through injuries which prevent them from continuing with a climb or descent.They then get stranded or fall with serious or fatal consequences.

Rescue Mode: Ridge Meadows SAR


Description: Monday August 9, 1999 – Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue received a call from the Ridge Meadows R.C.M.P. at 13:00 hrs regarding an overdue hiker in Golden Ears Park . The subject, a 35 year old Russian male who spoke no English, had left for a hike to the summit of Golden Ears on Sunday morning and had intended on returning before dark the same day. He had only been in Canada for three weeks and was unfamiliar with the area. His friend, who had reported him overdue, was waiting in the East Canyon parking lot where the subject’s car was located. After interviewing the friend, it was felt that the hiker had minimal equipment for an overnight stay. He was wearing blue jeans, flannel shirt, hiking boots and carrying ski poles. No-one had seen him leave in the morning, so it was not clear as to the contents of his backpack. He did have a strong background in hiking and mountaineering in Russia and Siberia although he had not done a lot of hiking recently. As this was not the usual starting point for the Golden Ears trail, the SAR managers were concerned that the missing person may have deviated from his intended destination. The potential search area was huge, so Coquitlam Search and Rescue was asked to supply more searchers. Prism Helicopters was contacted and arrangements were made to have a Hughes 500D transport teams to the summit and the cabin at Panorama Ridge. A team was also started on the West Canyon trail with instructions to search to Alder Flats. Shortly after the summit team was dropped off the hasty team on the West Canyon trail radioed in that they had located the subject walking out on the trail. On his arrival at field base his friend, acting as an interpreter, told us he had made the summit on Sunday at 14:30hrs but on the descent had lost the route in fog and cloud. He missed the turn to Panorama Ridge and instead found himself heading south down the North Allouette gorge. This steep, rocky valley is the headwaters of the North Allouette River and can be very hazardous to the inexperienced. After realizing his mistake, he turned around and started to ascend to the saddle below Golden Ears. With night falling, he slept in the valley and made the saddle around 07:30 Monday morning where he was able to find the route out along Panorama Ridge.


Description: In June, 1966, L.E and his son J.E. (13), set out to climb the Golden Ears. A search began when they failed to return. The weather was bad and precise information on their objective was not available. A four day search revealed no trace and further searches in the summer and fall were also fruitless. L.E. had some experience and carried a rope, but was reported to be awaiting hospital treatment for trouble with a knee cartilage.


Description: During the search for L.E. and his son, D.O. of the Mountain Rescue Group suffered severe leg fractures when hit by a falling rock. Quick radio communication brought an Air Forde helicopter to the scene and her was winched up and removed to hospital in a very short time.

Here are some additional incidents that occured in Golden Ears Park:


CrownMountain – Hiker needed assistance

Another incident ivolving a route close to town. There is risk in any scrambling route, regardless of how easy it appears.

Description: 5 North Shore Rescue members responded to rescue a stranded hiker on Crown Mountain . The subject was assisted off the mountain uninjured. Rescuers had their hands full carting food, water, clothing and equipment up to Crown Mountain Friday night after a hiker got stuck in dangerous terrain. North Shore Rescue (NSR) team members responded to a call at 10:30 p.m. for a North Vancouver resident in his 20s, who had hiked up to an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,219 metres) without proper equipment. NSR spokesman Tim Jones said the man, whose name was not released, ran in to bad weather, including snow, and dangerous rocky terrain when he hiked out to a site about a two-hour trek behind Grouse Mountain . The man was only wearing running shoes with no treads, instead of proper mountain climbing footwear. Jones said the man would not have been able to make it back down the mountain by himself in the dark. A cellphone call by the man to emergency personnel brought out three volunteer NSR members, who hiked in to the man’s location carrying a heavy load of food, water, clothing and other equipment. Jones said the hike took a few hours because the teams had to move a lot slower in the dark. Before the team reached the hiker the man was calling on his phone and telling them he was cold, said Jones. He said the man indicated he wanted a faster response from the team, but Jones said hiking in was the only safe option. A helicopter rescue could not be attempted in the area where the hiker was located because that area did not have a safe place for the helicopter to land, and tree cover would have prevented the helicopter from handling a long line rescue. The lost hiker was exhausted by the time the NSR team members reached him and Jones said the lost hiker was not looking forward to the hours-long hike out. The group didn’t reach the Grouse Mountain tram until 7 a.m.

Analysis: Jones said it is important for visitors to the mountain to know that if they get stuck up there, they may be facing a long hike out as helicopter rescues are not always possible. It’s also important for hikers to know where they are going.

Rescue Mode: North Shore Rescue, BC PEP Incident Summaries


Two incidents on Cheam, one fatality

Here is information about two separate rescue incidents on Cheam.
I’m not sure where the second incident involving a death occured, but it sounds like it was on one of the standard routes on the mountains. This is another mountain that appears easy, and is easy to underestimate. Getting off route can quickly lead to very dangerous situations.

Missing Hiker:

Description: 9 Kent Harrison SAR members responded to search for a male who went missing in the area of Mount Cheam near Agassiz . RCMP located male in good health and the SAR team was stood down prior to mustering.

Fatal Accident:

Description: At 0730, J.I. and his son and two others started to climb Mount Cheam . At least one member of the party had mountaineering experience, but J.I. did not. At 1130, during the descent, near a point called “The Gendarme”, his feet slipped on a snow patch as he turned to make his way into a gully. He slid on snow on his back for about 100 metres, then went over a cliff to his death.

Analysis: The climb is an easy one, with just one tricky spot that is readily avoided by a short but obvious detour. This is presumably where the accident occurred.


BrunswickMountain – slide on snow into rocks/serious injury

This report details an accident on Brunswick mountain. The individual slipped on a snow patch and slid into rocks. The victim sustained several serious injuries: a collapsed lung, 6 broken ribs and a fractured lumbar vertebrae. None of the party had an ice axe, which may have prevented this accident. It is important to remember that even routes often considered “simple hikes” can invovle the risk of injury. Don’t underestimate any mountain route.

Description: “The third rescue of this weekend involved a 56-year-old Burnaby resident, A.M. On Monday morning, she was being watched in the Vancouver General Hospital ‘s emergency department. A.M. fell 100 metres (330 feet) through snow and rocks in mountains near Lions Bay Sunday, said Lions Bay Search and Rescue spokesman Owen Jones. He said A.M. had climbed to the snowy peak of 1,775-metre (5,823-foot) Mount Brunswick . She ate lunch with her four friends from the Valley Outdoor Hiking Club before heading down at 12:45 p.m. “They were well-equipped and knowledgeable but didn’t have any ice axes,” said Jones. Just below the top, A.M. fell on a steep section of hard snow and plunged through a gully of snow and rock. Jones said A.M. suffered lacerations, head injuries and bruising during the fall. Three members of the group stayed with the injured woman while a fourth went for help. Some searchers were plucked from the Mount Seymour search to help on Mount Brunswick , said Jones. A helicopter could not land near the woman in the foggy conditions Sunday night, so a Labrador helicopter from Comox was called in. Rescuers, who were concerned that A.M. had internal injuries, took advantage of a short break in the cloud cover to lift A.M. off the mountain and transport her to Vancouver General at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Search and rescue members from Squamish, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Surrey , Chilliwack , and Central Fraser Valley all helped on the weekend.”…”At 0740 on the morning of June 29, a group of 5 hikers from the Valley Hiking Club started a hike up to the summit if 1788m Mt. Brunswick, the tallest of the North Shore mountains, following the Mt. Brunswick Trail. The group consisted of 3 females and 2 males, both of whom had hiked the trail before. The group reached the col just below the summit of the peak, approximately 300 vertical meters above the snow line, and stopped for lunch in a spot sheltered from the wind. NM, one of the 2 male hikers, continued to the summit for a brief stop before returning to the group. After beginning their descent, the two male hikers had boot-skied ahead of the rest of the group. Shortly after descending from the col, at 1245 hrs, at approx. 1600m elevation, the group reached a point where the trail traverses the slope above a steep gully before descending again. One of the female members of the group, AM, traveling as the fourth person in line, slipped and fell on the snow, sliding on her vinyl poncho approximately 100m down into the gully striking exposed rock outcroppings on the way. NM, the first member in line and leader of the group, had attempted to catch her on her slide before losing grip and AM slid away from him, coming to a stop on the snow in the gully. The other members of the group made their way to her, except for the other male hiker, GS, who was immediately sent for help. GS, a former marathon runner, made quick time in descending the trail and making his way to Lions Bay ambulance station where he reported the accident. A page was sent to Lions Bay Search and Rescue at approximately 1410 and search manager Bob Manson responded to the station to take the statement of GS. At 1430 a general callout was begun for members of Lions Bay Search and Rescue to attend at the Emergency Building , which houses the ambulance station, fire department and SAR base. Lions Bay Search & Rescue was at that time tasked to a mutual aid response on Mt. Seymour where two separate searches were in progress and where team members had been searching for the previous 18 hours. Four members were recalled from that task and flown by helicopter to Lions Bay while three more members responded from their homes. The helicopter that had transported the team members from Mt. Seymour had performed a recce on his way in to Lions Bay and had determined that due to cloud cover, the area of the accident was inaccessible by air. Of the initially responding members -including a former paramedic- two teams were formed and given assignments. The first team consisting of fresh members, were assigned to access and assess the patient, transporting first aid and hypothermia packaging equipment with them. The second team was assigned to assist the first, and to escort the three companion hikers down off the mountain. Both teams were to access the scene on foot. Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, the SAR teams found that the companion hikers had marked a route from the trail to the subject, who had been cared for by NM, the hiking group’s leader who possessed an OFA3 first aid certificate. An initial assessment of the patient determined: accelerated respiration, moderate hypothermia, compromised airway, probable fractured ribs, probable head injury, possible c-spine injury, and multiple contusions to her head, face and body. NM reported that the subject had not lost consciousness at any point but had periodically reduced level of consciousness. The subject had been moved, prior to SAR team arrival, off the snow and an effort had been made to keep her warm with the few resources the hikers had with them. Due to the terrain and patient condition, the 6 SAR members remain ed with the patient while the companion hikers walked out. As additional SAR members reported to base, several plans were drawn-up. As the field teams had reported intermittent breaks in the cloud cover, a SAR member paramedic and another SAR member were dispatched by helicopter with additional medical equipment and patient packaging equipment in an effort to land on the ridge above the scene and access on foot. At the same time, Canadian Armed Forces Search & Rescue 442 Squadron. was called to assist with their Labrador helicopter and paramedics as the field teams reported that to remove the subject on the ground would require a rope rescue evolution followed by a long, difficult carry out, which may have proven injurious to the patient. 442 Squadron. reported that due to the Labrador being on standby on the west side of Vancouver Island, their time to scene would be 1hr, 30min. Cloud cover prevented the paramedic team from landing and they returned to the staging area where they were dispatched to access the patient by ground along with additional SAR team members in case a carry-out was required. Members of Squamish Search & Rescue had been called for mutual aid to provide the necessary manpower and four of their members had been standing by at base along with more LBSAR members. Squamish SAR members had just returned from a search of their own. As additional ground teams were moving toward the subject, the Labrador Helicopter arrived and attempted to locate the scene as clouds at ground level continued to move in and out of the area. After circling for approximately 30min. while ground teams launched flares during brief breaks in cover, the helicopter crew was able to pinpoint their location. Running low on fuel, when the clouds next broke, the Labrador crew lowered two paramedics and a stretcher by winch and rapidly evacuated the patient who was then flown to hospital. The subject’s injuries included a collapsed lung, 6 broken ribs and a fractured lumbar vertebrae. The ground SAR teams hiked out and the last field teams returning to base at approximately midnight . Twenty two SAR personnel including four from Squamish SAR, participated in this 10 hour operation. Of the five hikers in the group, none had ice axes or crampons. Two of the group, not including the injured subject, had ski poles for walking sticks. Only the two male members of the group had any previous experience hiking in steep snow conditions. Though better equipped than many day hikers, with headlamps, extra clothes, proper footwear, etc, they were not equipped to deal with the seriousness of the situation that developed. Hypothermia would have been a serious problem if the subject had gone a few more hours without SAR members present. None of the members of the group had left a pre-hike plan with a responsible person nor given any notice of their destination, or expected return time. Bob Manson Lions Bay Search & Rescue


Rescue Mode: North Shore rescue


Black Tusk – Fall on rock/serious injury

This link provides information about a very serious accident that occured on the Black Tusk scrambling route. The victim got off route on the descent and eventually fell sustaining serious injuries.

Description: On September 1, 1985 , two hikers left Black Tusk Meadows to scramble up the Black Tusk (2,200 metres). The night before they had seen a Parks Branch film about the summit which stressed that the only safe way was up a chimney at the west end of the main face. When they reached it, one of them decided it was too steep and the other (40) went up alone. Descending, he took a wrong turn from the summit and wound up on the steep, dangerously loose South Face. He fell 12 metres into a narrow gully, fracturing his skull, an arm, leg, and suffering other injuries. A climber reached him in an hour and sent hikers to the rangers’ cabin. A helicopter came with a doctor on board. The victim, still unconscious, was attached by slings to a fixed cable under the helicopter and flown to hospital.

Analysis: The Black Tusk is an easily accessible climb which is an easy Class 3, if you find the right route. But if you miss it, either ascending or descending, you’re onto horribly loose Class 5.

Rescue Mode: helicopter

Here’s another PEP incident report:
August 16, 2003
12 Squamish SAR members responded to an injured female on the Black Tusk. The subject was located and air lifted to hospital.


BrandywineMountain Area – hiker stuck in bad weather

Here’s some info about a hiker who went missing in the Brandywine area for several days. He had been pinned down by poor weather.

From the Whistler Questions:
Crews search for missing hiker

By Kim Thompson

Low clouds hinder hunt for SFU professor reported missing on Sunday. Wet weather and low clouds this week have hampered the search for a hiker who has been missing since Sunday in the area around Brandywine Falls Provincial Park . Crews from Whistler, Pemberton and Coquitlam Search and Rescue (SAR) have turned up no clues in the search for Samuel Black, 39, of Vancouver . Ted Pryce-Jones, secretary for Whistler SAR, said searchers had a brief break in the weather on Wednesday afternoon and were able to get search helicopters in the air. “We got up briefly and the weather slammed us down, quickly,” Pryce-Jones said. “We were hoping to get up in the air for a much longer time but then the clouds rolled in in that area.” Black’s friends contacted authorities Sunday afternoon after he failed to return from a solo, overnight hiking trip. “We started the search on Sunday and looked at basic areas where friends thought he was going. The weather crapped out on us Monday so we were restricted to a ground search,” Pryce-Jones said. “The weather has been a limiting factor in our search efforts and we are hoping for a break to get helicopters in the air.” According to Pryce-Jones, Black is an experienced hiker and recently returned from a backpacking trip in Banff . Black is described as being approximately 6 feet tall with a medium build, brown eyes with glasses. Witnesses said he was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and a yellow/gray jacket. He was also carrying a backpack, sleeping bag and a small grey/silver/green tent. After an investigating Black’s truck, which was parked at the Brandywine Meadows parking lot, Pryce-Jones said it looked as though Black left with a few cans of tuna, water and a granola bar. “He is not a climber as such but likes to do a bit of scrambling. Friends say he always leaves prepared and only intended to be up that night and day,” Pyrce-Jones said. Rescuers speculated that Black experienced a broken ankle and has not been able to travel quickly as a result. Pryce-Jones said friends describe Black as the type of hiker who would likely hunker down and wait out bad weather rather than panicking. “He seems like a level-headed guy who knows his way around the woods. If he were otherwise, it would change the way we search,” Pryce-Jones said. “Unfortunately he didn’t take a cell phone with him because he doesn’t own one. A phone call has helped many of our searches.” Aside from being an avid hiker, Black is an assistant philosophy professor at Simon Fraser University . According to his on-line biography, Black has his Ph.D from Cambridge University in England and has an attachment to philosophy. The last sentence of his bio reads, “I’m a great devotee of several local Asian restaurants, and regularly go walking in the mountains.” As of Tuesday, five rescue teams were searching Black’s intended path in the Brandywine Mountain , Mettledome Mountain , Mount Fee and Callaghan areas. His truck continues to sit at the Brandywine Meadows trailhead and police are seeking assistance of anyone whom may have encountered Black. “We have been cutting all the trails with the assumption he may have taken the wrong route and came down another way. The bad weather keeps crews from accessing the top so we have been sticking to drainages,” Pryce-Jones said. Crews are searching a 150-square-kilometre area, combing the woods slowly without support from the air because of the low cloud cover. On Tuesday, Pryce-Jones said 75 per cent of the area had been surveyed at least once. Organizers were hoping for a break in the wet weather so they could get helicopters in the air. Fortunately for Black, higher alpine areas have not dipped below the freezing mark despite the cool, damp weather. “In the mountains, our most effective way to search is by helicopter,” said Pyrce-Jones. “We fly with GPS units that send out a signal every 15 seconds which is translated to maps later.” Although SAR crews are optimistic, the RCMP normally determines the length of the search. If the search continues, Pyrce-Jones expects search and rescue workers from other areas to be called in. Pryce-Jones said crews will continue to check off areas they’ve searched thoroughly to help them determine where he might be. “The area he was intending to go has a well-marked trail head but in the summer there is no standardized marking. He seems like a responsible guy and had map and compass experience,” Pyrce-Jones said. Any information regarding Black is to be directed to Whistler RCMP.


RainbowMountain – Missing Person/Fatality

Brian Faughnan went missing in the whislter backcountry in the summer of 2002. An extensive search failed to turn up any evidence about what happened. I met brian a few days before his disappearance while working at MEC and answered some questions he had about good hiking and scrambling destinations. We discussed rainbow mountain, which is where the search team believes he went missing. This story is a real tragedy and reminds me of the inherent danger of hiking alone.

More information: