A hiker found himself in a scary situation after falling into Hell Roaring Creek while descending the Lake of the Hanging Glacier hike. On Sunday, July 2nd Columbia Valley Search and Rescue was dispatched to the area to rescue a man who had fallen into the creek.
“He was crossing the creek and slipped and ended up a couple hundred yards downstream with some minor injuries to his hands, arms and leg and was unable to get himself out. Another group came by and I guess they found out what had happened. They hiked out, drove back towards (town) and called 911 once they got back into cell service,” said Search and Rescue manager Steve Talsma.
While the man fell into the creek around 5:00 p.m. the call to B.C. Ambulance wasn’t placed until the second group of hikers got back into cell range at 7:30 p.m. Search and Rescue decided to send two teams out: one ground crew and another by helicopter to assist the hiker arriving on scene around 9 p.m.
“There wasn’t really a great place to land so they got dropped off in two different locations. They split up and tried one group on either side of the creek and then they had to bushwack through some pretty thick alder and rough terrain to try and get access to him,” said Talsma.
As the hiker was in the creek for an extended period of time, the search and rescue team was concerned the man would suffer hypothermia.
“It was a fair amount of time he was there and that was a concern, the temperature and being wet for that amount of time,” said Talsma.
Given the terrain, search and rescue worked tirelessly to hand cut trees to allow the helicopter access to the injured man.
“Once they had done that the helicopter came back and they were able to get him into the helicopter, then flew down towards the trailhead. The ambulance had actually driven all the way out there which was a bit of a surprise,” said Talsma.
The paramedics were able to warm the man up and bring him to Invermere & District Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
The incident occurred in the area where the Summit Trail Makers Society seasonal bridge is typically placed. However, the seasonal bridge had not yet been put out for the season at the time of the accident.
“Normally we try to get it in before the July long weekend, to be honest, this year with the heavy snowpack and the high runoff we didn’t think it was safe to put it in ’til we got more of the runoff gone,” said Wayne Lyons, president of Summit Trail Makers.
Agreeing with recreational sites and trails B.C. to wait and put the bridge in place on Friday, July 7th. According to Mr. Lyons, both the Horsethief and Hell Roaring Creek were flowing pretty high when the Trail Makers went up to put in the bridge.
“We put the bridge in when we think it’s safe to do it and people shouldn’t go up there and trying to bully their way across that creek being too aggressive,” said Lyons.
Talsma commented that a lot of people don’t realize that when you’re in the Valley and it’s 30 or 35 degrees there’s still snow in a lot of these places that our trails go. So people should be prepared for changes in the weather.
“I don’t know how much this factored in but one of the things I think probably made it harder for them is when they went up in the morning the creek crossing wasn’t as bad, but in the afternoon the hot temperatures there’s lots of snow melt and the creek had come up quite a bit and was moving a lot faster which made crossing the creek a little more difficult,” said Talsma.
The seasonal bridge has been put in place for the Lake of the Hanging Glacier and the crossing across Hell Roaring Creek is now safe for hikers to pass over. The public is reminded to be prepared for changing weather while enjoying the alpine.