Search and rescue crews headed into Maple Ridge’s mountains three times over the Easter long weekend to help out hikers enjoying some long-awaited spring sun.
“The call came in around 4:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon,” said Rick Laing with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue, describing one incident.
An 18-year-old hiker had slid or fallen about 13 metres down a slope on Evans Peak in Golden Ears Provincial Park. “They were looking at severe injuries with limited daylight.”
Based on the location provided by RCMP, and a chat with the hikers via cell, Laing knew the location.
He then directed a rescue helicopter from Coquitlam Search and Rescue. The Coquitlam team is trained in long-line helicopter rescue which allowed crews to attach the injured man to a harness then bring him to the park road so an air ambulance could evacuate him to Royal Columbian Hospital.
However, the man’s three companions remained on the mountain with temperatures dropping and night falling.
They’d had scrambled down the slope to take care of their injured friend and gave him some of their clothes to keep him warm.
The Coquitlam SAR made a second trip to rescue the remaining three just before darkness fell.
“So the time was really short on that one,” said Laing.
He said that the man had more or less slid down the slope and broke one rib and bruised others. “He was very fortunate that his injuries weren’t as severe.”
The day before on Good Friday, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue also were dispatched to the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest at the north end of 232nd Street to look for two missing hikers. But the pair walked out on their own.
On Sunday, they also got called out to Grant Narrows Pitt Lake after a couple didn’t show up when expected.
They had taken their boat up to the north end of the lake with intent then of cycling up to the hot springs along the Upper Pitt River.
But when a brother went up there to meet them on Saturday, he couldn’t find them.
Somewhere along the way the boat developed engine problems at the north end of the lake.
The next day however, they got their boat going and the couple showed up at the dock at Grant Narrows, just as search and rescue was going to launch its search.
Laing pointed out springtime weather is creating avalanche conditions and asked people to check with Avalanche Canada before heading on to the trails and slopes.
And make sure you’re properly equipped in case things go wrong and you have to spend the night out in the moutains.
If the call (to Evans Peak) had come in a half hour later, it would have been a totally different story. “They may have had to spend the night out there.” One in the group had only sweat pants and running shoes.
“Things can go sideways really quickly,” Laing said.
“A rescue in the mountains can be anywhere from a couple of hours to over night.”
Ridge Meadows SAR has responded to at least half a dozen calls since the new year. “It’s been a busy year so far.”