British Columbia

2 groups of hikers rescued by helicopter near Vancouver

North Shore Rescue was called to help two groups of hikers from Howe Sound Crest Trail near Lions Bay, B.C., just north of Vancouver on Friday evening.

North Shore Rescue called for back-to-back helicopter rescues on Howe Sound Crest Trail

North Shore Rescue's Doug Pope said without the assistance of a helicopter, it would have been a long night for volunteers, after two separate groups of hikers needed help on Friday night. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

It was a busy Friday night for rescue crews who were called to pluck two separate hiking parties from the mountains near Lions Bay, B.C., just north of Vancouver. 

North Shore Rescue (NSR) was called to assist Lions Bay Search and Rescue around suppertime, when two hikers got into trouble near the Lions. 

NSR's Doug Pope said the hikers wandered into the Harvey Creek drainage area.

"We've had a couple fatalities in that area in recent years. It's very steep," said Pope. 

Volunteers in the air were able to spot the hikers above a waterfall, and they were rescued using a helicopter long-line at about 8 p.m., PT.

Second group of hikers in distress

Then, as the first rescue was winding down, a second call came in for a group of six 18-year-olds, one of whom was suffering severe leg cramps and dehydration. The group, four women and two men from Surrey, was located thanks to cellphone signals.

"They were all getting very tired, and now we had a situation where one was incapacitated and the rest were ill-prepared," said Pope.

Rescue crews found the group near St. Mark's Summit, along the Howe Sound Crest Trail, and lifted them to safety, again using the helicopter long-line. It took three trips to get the 18-year-olds back to the parking lot at the Cypress Mountain ski area.

Pope said the hikers and volunteers were lucky — only five minutes of daylight was left before the helicopter had to head back to the airport. Without a helicopter, crews would have had to walk out with the hikers, and carry anyone too injured to walk, according to Pope.

Hikers weren't prepared

Pope says the teens weren't prepared for the trip they had planned, and didn't anticipate what would happen if they got stuck out in the dark. 

"They didn't have one flashlight between them," said Pope. He added that they lacked experience, and were all hiking in running shoes.

"You have to prepare for what might happen," said Pope. "Before heading out, you have to ask yourself, 'If something goes wrong, what will I need?'"

Pope said people planning on heading into the woods should consult NSR's list of 10 essential emergency items to pack on a hike.