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It was a busy weekend for Squamish Search and Rescue

While it is hot down below, it’s still winter in the alpine, warns SAR manager B.J. Chute.

Squamish's Search and Rescue volunteers have been busy lately, including being called to four simultaneous incidents in one day.

The quartet of rescues happened on Saturday, May 13, according to B.J. Chute, SAR manager.

The first call was for a woman on Al's Habrich Ridge, who got off the trail and ended up descending a snow slope. She became "cliffed out," meaning she was on a cliff and couldn't go up or down. 

SAR volunteers flew in above her, rigged a rope system and assisted her in being brought back up, where she was picked up by helicopter and flown back to Squamish, uninjured. 

While wrapping up this mission, SAR was alerted by RCMP and BC Ambulance that there was a sick and dehydrated person at Elfin Lakes. 

"We diverted a part of the team that was at Al's Habrich Trail to Elfin Lakes, where she was medevaced back to Squamish, and turned over to BC Ambulance paramedics," Chute said.

While that was all happening, SAR was alerted that four hikers were reported lost near the Sea to Summit Trail. 

Coincidentally, members of the Lions Bay Volunteer Search and Rescue Team happened to be in the area. They came across the lost hikers and guided them back onto the trail.

At about the same time, a person was reported to SAR as overdue from a Stawamus Chief hike. 

"While we were interviewing their hiking partners, the person walked out," Chute said. 

Lost and injured

While that was a busy Saturday, those were just some of the calls search and rescue volunteers have been called to in the last week. 

On Thursday, May 11, there were two calls, according to Chute

In the first call, someone lost their way on the Stawamus Chief. 

The man was heading to the Third Peak but ended up at the top of Slhanay, Chute said. 

"Although we were getting ready to deploy a team, I was able to talk him out on his own," Chute recalled. 

The second call was for someone who had fallen and landed on a root that went into their hip. 

Chute said SAR volunteers went on foot to locate and stabilize the person. The patient was then helped to the top of Second Peak, where he was flown out and handed off to BC Ambulance paramedics to be taken to the hospital.

On Friday, a rock climber fell four or five pitches up on the Stawamus Chief and severely fractured his ankle, according to Chute.

"With assistance from our team members on the ground and by phone, we were able to coach him into rappelling on his own down to the ground. And once on the ground, the team met him," Chute said.

Rescuers stabilized the climber and carried him to the parking lot, where he was handed over to BC Ambulance paramedics.

This flurry of incidents over a few days is not unusual for the Squamish rescuers. To date this year, they have been called to 28 incidents; in 2022, the first responders had fielded 31 by May 15; in 2021, that figure was 32. 

All told, last year, Squamish SAR was called to 124 incidents. In 2021, they answered 151 calls.

Still winter in the alpine

Chute reminded outdoor enthusiasts that at this time of year — when it is so warm down in town —  it is still winter in the mountains. 

"We did see some people who were surprised by the amount of snow that's easily accessible," Chute said. 

Folks are advised to be well prepared before heading out, including researching the activity and conditions. 

Chute also stressed that the sooner folks in distress in the backcountry call 911 to alert search and rescue, the better. 

"The longer people wait, the longer it takes our team to deploy. If we have the afternoon, for example, we have lots of daylight; we can work with helicopters and effect a rescue a lot quicker."

Find out more about Squamish SAR on its website


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