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Hiker who fell down waterfall lucky to be alive, North Shore Rescue says

Firefighters had to rappel 90 metres to reach the injured man
NSR Mackay Creek 2 web
District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members prepare an injured hiker for a helicopter extraction after he fell down a series of waterfalls on the front side of Grouse Mountain, Oct. 24, 2021.

First responders say a local hiker is lucky to have survived after falling down a series of waterfalls into a gully on the front side of Grouse Mountain, Sunday (Oct. 24).

District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members responded to a distress call not far from where the Baden Powell Trail cross Mackay Creek around 2 p.m. after a 29-year-old man fell.

“He got off trail and he got basically into really steep terrain and ended up slipping down … a very steep set of waterfalls. Obviously injured, he ended up lying in the pool of the waterfall below, not moving,” said North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks.

Luckily, district crews were able to pinpoint his location from his cellphone’s co-ordinates but they had to rappel down more than 300 feet to reach the man, Danks said.

By then, he was badly hypothermic and had injuries to his hips and legs that would have made getting out on his own impossible.

“This was a multi-trauma call,” Danks said. “So he was in pretty bad shape.”

District crews got him out of his wet clothes, packaged him in a stretcher and began rewarming him. Given the terrain though, getting him and the stretcher out would have been extremely difficult, so the duty chief made the call to North Shore Rescue, requesting help with a helicopter extraction.

DNV Fire members scouted an ideal location for the Talon Helicopter pilots to lower North Shore Rescue’s volunteers, where they rigged the stretcher to a 250-foot (76 m) long line and brought the injured man to a waiting ambulance at the Capilano Gate rescue station.

Danks said it is always a point of pride among local firefighters and North Shore Rescue members when they work together to save a patient.

There are a few takeaway safety lessons from the incident, Danks said.

The man was hiking by himself, which Danks said they never recommend. Had he been left with a head injury or broken phone, it is likely he would not have been able to call for help from the gully.

The man was also not appropriately dressed for the wet weather, even if he hadn’t ended up in a creek.

And Danks said the subject made a very common mistake – trying to reach safety by going downhill.

“If you're lost, do not go downhill on the North Shore mountains. It's just not a good idea.  You just end up in precarious positions,” he said.