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Crews rescue climbers, hikers and more over the past few days

Squamish Search and Rescue is almost twice as busy as it was this time last year.
SAR - Jon Thorpe:Squamish SAR
Squamish Search and Rescue airlifted a fallen climber from Butt Light on the Stawamus Chief. Courtesy of Squamish SAR/Jon Thorpe.

Squamish Search and Rescue is busier than ever this season, with multiple missions in the last week, including an aerial rescue from the Stawamus Chief on Sunday.

As of Monday, the volunteer rescue organization received 56 calls this year. At the same time in 2020 and the year before, those numbers were at 31 and 25 to date, respectively. 

On June 20, crews flew a helicopter over the Chief to rescue a climber who had fallen on Butt Light, arguably the most popular way up the monolith. 

The athlete had injured their ankle during the fall and had to be airlifted out, said rescue manager B.J. Chute.

“We were able to access them with our helicopter winch, so we were able to winch a technician down and bring them back to the Stawamus Elementary school where they were turned over to paramedics,” said Chute.

That same day, in a separate case, two climbers fell at Mount Fee. 

An hours-long rescue was required. Two helicopters were deployed, and crews used a winch to fly out the injured athletes.

“That was quite a serious accident,” Chute said.

He didn’t have any other details on the condition of the climbers.

There was a third call on Sunday, but that was an SOS beacon that resolved itself.

It was in the Ring Creek area, but, ultimately, bystanders were able to help out the caller in distress, so rescuers stood down.

On June 19, crews were called out to help a hiker who collapsed on the Sea to Summit Trail leading up to the gondola.

However, gondola staff were able to reach the hiker first with an ATV, so SAR stood down.

Also on Saturday, crews assisted a person who injured their leg on the Tantalus range. Crews flew in and brought them to safety.

On June 17, there were two calls.

The first was a call to lost hikers on the Black Tusk trail, which was forwarded to Whistler SAR.

The second call was for three lost hikers in the Valleycliffe area.

“They underestimated the difficulty of where they were going for them, as well as the daylight, so they got turned around in the dark and ended up off-trail in Mount Crumpit,” Chute said. “So we were able to send a team up there and escort them out there with some headlamps.”

Rescuers responded to a call for missing children on the Stawamus Chief hiking trail.

They were thought to be lost, but were located by family members at the top station of the gondola.

The kids, aged between eight to 12, ran ahead on the main Chief trail and wound up taking the Sea to Summit, instead of the Stawamus Chief hike.

A SAR member who happened to be in the area for a run was able to gather some information.

Afterwards, a team flew in and dropped SAR members on the third, second and first peaks of the Stawamus Chief and swept the area.

However, the parents and the gondola staff later informed crews they’d found the missing kids.

Chute said assuming there is cell reception, people needing help should dial 911 — and only 911 — as quickly as possible, as location data isn’t always perfect.

The sooner a person calls, the sooner rescuers can start figuring out the search area and narrowing that zone to a more precise location.

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