North Shore Rescue breaks record for highest number of callouts in a year

Two dog walkers were rescued from the Grouse-Mount Fromme area overnight, bringing the total number of NSR rescues to a record high in 2018.

Dog walkers' rescue Thursday night brings 2018 total to 141

A North Shore Rescue team member helps carry a hiker's dog to safety after the pet and its owner got lost near Mosquito Creek late Thursday. (Ian Christie/Peg Leg Films)

One of Metro Vancouver's biggest search and rescue teams has broken its record for the highest number of callouts in a year.

With the rescue of two lost, cold hikers Thursday night, North Shore Rescue (NSR) has now responded 141 times in 2018.

NSR tracks down people who run into trouble on and around the North Shore mountains. On average, the volunteer-run group responds to about 130 calls in a year.

On Thursday, two hikers got lost with their dogs in the Grouse-Mount Fromme area around 9 p.m. PT. They'd spotted a cougar and bolted off the trail.

"They ran in a direction where they weren't thinking … After the panic, they found themselves lost," said NSR team member Peter Haigh. "Where they ended up was very, very steep terrain."

More than a dozen NSR team members hiked up Mosquito Creek to rescue two hikers and their dogs on Thursday night. (Ian Christie/Peg Leg Films)

Around 15 team members hiked "quite a long way" up to the west side of Mosquito Creek, eventually finding a way across the water to help the hikers out around 1 a.m.

Haigh said the hikers, a man and woman out with two dogs, were unhurt but cold. The team had to use ropes to walk them down.

"So they wouldn't fall over carrying the dogs," Haigh explained Friday morning.

"Everybody was fine. No problem there. A little cold with the clothing they were wearing but we were able to clothe and warm them up."

'It's been a busy year'

NSR's previous record for highest number of calls in a year was 139, set in 2015.

"It's been a busy year, but the calls these days are often a lot shorter than 20 years ago. It still makes [for] a busy time and all team members need to put a lot of hours in to cover all the calls."

Peter Haigh, a longtime member of NSR. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

NSR has an extensive portion of its website dedicated to education, with safety tips and lists of what to bring on a hike — and what to do before you leave.

The most common way for a hiker to run into trouble is being caught on a trail at nightfall without a flashlight, according to the team.

"That is why carrying a good quality flashlight or headlamp with extra bulb and batteries per person is No. 1 on our list of the 10 essential items," the website reads.

The NSR team is made up of around 50 volunteers. The organization was established in 1965, making it one of the oldest search and rescue teams in the country.

The team does not charge for rescues to avoid deterring someone in trouble from calling for help. 

A North Shore Rescue team photo taken in 2017. (North Shore Rescue)

With files from Micki Cowan

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