North Shore Rescue seeing spike in calls during long weekend
Search and rescue volunteers were called out several times Friday, and again on Saturday
Seven volunteers with North Shore Rescue (NSR) were out late Saturday night and well into Sunday morning, helping a 68-year-old German tourist off Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver.
This was the seventh call requiring assistance from NSR in just two days, in what Search Manager Peter Haigh described as a Labour Day long weekend surge.
According to Haigh, the hiker, Fred Hermkes, got lost in an extremely steep area near the top of the Grouse Grind, and required a technical rope rescue.
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Haigh said NSR was contacted about the lost tourist a little before 8 p.m., just as crews were wrapping up another rescue nearby. It wasn't until 4:30 a.m. on Sunday that NSR volunteers emerged from the trail with Hermkes tethered to a short rope.
A helicopter was used to locate Hermkes, but due to darkness, it was grounded before the hiker could be plucked from the mountain, according to Haigh.
Volunteers had to head into the forest on foot to reach the man in treacherous terrain.
"What's very confusing, is how he got in that location in the first place," Haigh said.
"We haven't figured that out, and with the language difficulty, we probably won't."
Haigh added that the rescue took several hours longer than expected, and the tourist was not prepared for a hike in the backcountry.
Hermkes had a flashlight, which helped, but he was wearing street shoes and failed to pack extra clothing.
Busy start to the long weekend
The Saturday night rescue came on the tail of six other calls for NSR in just two days:
"As you know, we are all volunteers, and we do have other lives, if you can believe it," said Haigh. "It's been crazy more recently and I really do not understand why."
Haigh said August was an exceptionally busy month with a total of 29 calls.