A couple of recent Squamish Search and Rescue calls serve as a reminder to be prepared to spend the night outside if plans go awry.
Rescue manager B.J. Chute says that researching current ski and trail conditions goes a long way, especially this time of year.
"It still gets dark early, so having a light source such as a headlamp per person, phone charger, an extra, puffy, little bit of extra food, that type of stuff to help combat the darkness as well as the weather and the cold," said Chute.
From Feb. 26 to 27, rescue crews were called out each day to help skiers in the first case, and hikers in the second.
That Saturday, three backcountry skiers went to Elfin, and, on the way back, decided to ski around the far side of Round Mountain. They wound up missing the trail coming back, Chute said. They tried skiing straight back down to the parking lot, but found themselves in a densely treed area with cliffs.
"They contacted us quite late," said Chute. "Given the avalanche conditions and time of day, it took longer than probably one would expect to mount a search and rescue of them. So ultimately, we were able to talk them back uphill the way they had come. And that allowed the team to safely navigate the trail to Red Heather."
Crews were able to meet with the skiers just above the Red Heather Hut, and brought them inside to warm them up and give them food and water.
Two of the three skiers were snowmobiled out by rescuers, and the last one skied out with the crew.
No one was injured.
On Sunday, a pair of hikers attempted to hike from Slhanay to the Stawamus Chief using the backside connector trail.
"You get to a point where there are some rungs in the rock," said Chute. "And they thought that it was too technical for them. They tried and assumed that they had gone the wrong way. So, they attempted a few of the other trails up there and ended up just kind of wandering around in the circle."
Ultimately, they got lost and wound up calling search and rescue when it became dark. Rescuers managed to find them at around 10 p.m. and the rescue was complete by about 1 a.m.
"it's important that people spend even just 10 or 15 minutes researching where they're going, like, read a few trail reports, you know, not just relying on a single app or word of mouth as to where to go," he said. "I think in both cases that would have served these people quite well."
As of Feb. 28, when The Squamish Chief spoke with Chute, Squamish Search and Rescue has received nine calls so far this year.