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A long, busy July weekend for Squamish Search and Rescue

Crews have responded to 70 calls so far this year, up from 41 in 2020.

The combination of a long weekend and bright, sunny weather provided the perfect conditions to keep Squamish Search and Rescue working overtime.

As of July 5, the total call volume for local rescuers stands at 70 for this year. Last year, at that time, it was at 41, and, in 2019, it was 35.
"It is crazy," said rescue manager B.J. Chute.

The holiday weekend started off with a call on Wednesday, June 30, for a potentially drowning swimmer at Garibaldi Lake.

"He did go underwater [but] was pulled out by bystanders. He was conscious and breathing and no life-saving measures were performed on him. However, 911 was activated," said Chute.

SAR crews flew up to the site and brought him back to Squamish airport, where he was then handed over to paramedics, who transported him to hospital.

The swimmer was conscious the entire time, and appeared to be OK.

However, in a situation where people are suspected or confirmed to be underwater, they are treated as potential drowning cases until they can be checked over and given a clean bill of health, Chute said.

On July 1, there were three calls regarding hikers.

In the first case, a male injured his ankle below the Third Peak of the Stawamus Chief.

A team of SAR members who happened to be starting a hike up the Chief were assigned to help out.

Rescuers also flew two teams to the Third Peak to make their way down to him.

Crews wrapped him in a boot cast. After that, SAR members helped him up to the landing site on Third Peak and a medevac flew him out.

After that, rescuers were called in to help with a female with an ankle injury on the Stawamus Chief hiking trail, just by the junction that splits off into the Sea to Summit Trail.

Twelve members hiked up to her and put a boot cast on her.

As a result, her ankle was stabilized to the point where she was able to descend the trail. She was guided out to safety.

Around the same time, SAR crews set out to aid a disoriented woman lost in the Smoke Bluffs.

Though her phone died, rescuers could find her GPS location from her 911 call, and a small team guided her out of the park.

"[By] Friday night, we were double our call volume," said Chute.

However, the number of overall calls was no longer double by around Saturday, as it was similarly busy last year.

On July 2, a man became lost on a hike from Brohm Ridge to Cable Mountain in Garibaldi Park during low cloud and fog cover.

SAR crews tracked him via a GPS location given through his 911 call.

Rescuers flew over and dropped supplies to him, but he was not accessible by air.

As a result, crews sent two teams in trucks to drive up the Conroy Creek Forest Service Road to find him by foot.

He was uninjured and escorted back to the forest service road, where he was driven back to Squamish.

On July 3, rescuers came to the aid of a motorcyclist who crashed in the Indian River Forest Service Road.

Crews drove to the scene and a medical team flew out on a helicopter.

The aerial crew landed a kilometre away. With some help, the man was able to walk to the helicopter, which flew him to safety.

Around that time, SAR was informed there were lost hikers on the Elfin Lakes trail, but in this case, crews were stood down.

Coquitlam SAR also asked Squamish crews to help out with a call from Little Anne Lake for a missing hiker, but local teams were ultimately not needed in this case.

Finally, late that night, rescuers were called to help two climbers who were stranded on Tricouni Peak.

It turned out the climbers were uninjured and capable of leaving on their own, so crews stood down in this case as well.

Chute also said that two climbers fell at Smoke Bluffs Park on July 4, but SAR didn't respond to this incident — it was handled by Squamish Fire Rescue and paramedics.