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July call volume ramping up for Whistler Search and Rescue

Volunteers attended six different calls throughout the Sea to Sky corridor over the weekend

July is already proving to be a busy month for Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) volunteers, after local crews attended six calls throughout the Sea to Sky corridor over the weekend of July 9 to 11.

On Saturday evening, a solo hiker descending from Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park required a medivac rescue after she suffered a lower leg injury. Shortly after, a team of two female climbers in the Spearhead Range called for help after one of them also injured her leg. Fortunately for the pair, the WSAR medivac helicopter was already en route to the Whistler Health Care Centre and managed to pick them up just before dusk.

“There’s a certain amount of anxiety, you can well imagine, if you're calling in, and darkness is approaching and you're worried you're going to have to spend the night and somebody is injured—there's a lot going through your mind, and then to have the guy on the other end of the line say, ‘Can you be ready in a few minutes?’ [is a relief],” said WSAR president Brad Sills.

On Sunday evening, WSAR was once again called on to extricate another injured climber who had sustained a knee injury near the summit of Mount Weart, near Wedge Mountain, also in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

The steep terrain meant the search-and-rescue crew wasn’t able to land or hover-exit near the subject or her climbing partner, Sills explained, so the pair was long-lined out of the area.

WSAR also attended two mutual aid calls over the weekend: One to assist Pemberton Search and Rescue on Mount Matier, in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, and another in Squamish to aid in the search for 33-year-old Daniel Ring, who as of July 14, remains missing after failing to return from his planned trip to Rampart Ponds Campground along the Elfin Lakes trail.

To round out the weekend, search-and-rescue volunteers worked alongside Whistler firefighters to extract a mountain biker who suffered an upper leg injury while riding Business Time.

“Certainly Squamish (Search and Rescue) has been experiencing call volumes like this for about a month and a half, and we've been smugly sitting back here,” Sills said. “I think it's too early to say [the increase in calls] is a trend, but there's a lot of people out there.

“And they're quite ambitious targets that people are doing—it's not like they're just hiking to Rainbow Lake anymore.”

That said, the calls received over the weekend weren’t due to a lack of preparedness, Sills added, but were simply a series of unlucky results of accepting “the normal risk that you take when you endeavour to partake in these sports." 

As always, backcountry users are reminded that mountain rescue in B.C. is a government-sponsored emergency service that is provided without a fee to those who require it. People who genuinely find themselves in need of help should call 911.

Before heading out for your next adventure, remember to leave a trip plan with a loved one, pack the 10 essentials, and stick to objectives that are within your skill and experience level.  Visit AdventureSmart’s website for more know-before-you-go tips.