Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Calls to Whistler Search and Rescue down slightly

Pemberton Search and Rescue calls on par with 2021
Wedge 2
Wedgemount might be a scenic hike, but it's also a challenging one.

After spikes during the height of the pandemic, calls to Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) are down slightly compared to this time last year.

By August 2021, the team had fielded 41 calls, compared to 33 this year.

“With all the other distractions like bars, restaurants, public places [reopened], there aren’t as many people venturing out—that would be my take on it,” said WSAR president Brad Sills. “This would be the first time in a long time that we’ve seen summer call-outs possibly waning. I’m not saying for sure, but I’m pretty certain they’re not increasing.”

Rescue calls have primarily been for serious injuries like lower leg fractures or blown-out knees.

“We have had a couple of incidents of people calling us at sunset saying they didn’t know how they were going to get to their destination,” Sills said. “We had to suggest some options to them—maybe just bedding down for the night [when it was] only 14 degrees overnight.”

Consistent with past years, the popular Garibaldi Park is where the highest number of calls are coming from. However, Wedgemount Lake, which ascends 1,160 metres in just six kilometres, and isn’t subject to BC Parks' day pass system, has seen an uptick in calls.

“Wedge is the first entrance to Garibaldi Park that doesn’t require a reservation,” Sills said. “So people that are coming here for the first time could be stymied by the reservation system. Then they find out there’s one place that isn’t [part of it]. It just happens to be the most strenuous of the hikes.”

Over at Pemberton Search and Rescue [PSAR], calls are about the same as 2021, though the last several weeks have been quiet.

There haven’t been any trouble spots or specific injuries, said Pete Schimek, PSAR president.

“Most are legitimate calls; it’s definitely people in need of our services,” he said. “But in the last few days there’s been an uptick in people pushing the panic button fairly quickly … We’re getting people with injured wrists wanting rides out.”

They’re also seeing friends and family members reporting missing hikers just an hour or two after the time they said they’d return. “In every case, it’s miscommunication that seems to be the problem,” Schimek said.

“We’ve given people more time to get out and typically they do make their way out.”

For more information on backcountry safety—and how to leave a detailed trip plan—head to adventuresmart.ca.

WSAR, meanwhile, is set to host its first in-person Wine’d Up annual dinner and auction fundraiser since 2019 on Oct. 22. Tickets—which typically sell out—go on sale on Sept. 6 at whistlersar.com.

After a membership blitz, the organization is in its second year training 14 new members. “They come with a whole bunch of very elevated skill sets, particularly medical,” said Sills. “We’ve amped our game up a bit.”