North Shore helicopter rescues ill-prepared Grouse mountain hiker

Two more stranded hikers rescued this weekend, despite warnings that rescue services at are their limit.

Dominic Lim found terrified, one of record number of 45 rescue calls since August

A North Shore rescue crew air lifted a student and flew him to safety using a long rope and safety equipment early Sunday morning, getting a great view of the sunrise. (North Shore Rescue)

Dominic Lim headed up Grouse Mountain for a pleasant hike Saturday, but ended up shivering and stricken, hauled off by helicopter at dawn Sunday morning.

The shaken student spent a night under tarps with a North Shore Rescue team, awaiting first light.

Long way down

A breathtaking view as rescuers lift a Grouse Mountain hiker to safety, off an almost vertical wall of rock. (North Shore Rescue)

Rescuer Jeff Yarnold says Lim made it up the mountain, but quickly went off-trail during his descent. The 32-year-old South Korean student stumbled through the bush for hours, falling off a cliff at one point.

He finally did the right thing and called 911, said Yarnold, who described the terrain where they found Lim as "almost vertical."

"He was scared. He was cold. He was in a T-shirt."

Lim's story is not unusual near the popular Grouse Grind, said Yarnold. It could have ended in death, as Lim was metres from a high cliff in the pitch dark near McKay Creek.

After a chilly overnight with a rescue crew, a long line was used to haul the shaken student to safety. Once safe emotions ran high.

"He was just so appreciative...He felt that we saved his life here last night, and I don't think he's incorrect," said Yarnold.

Lim admitted he was totally unprepared for bush whacking with only water, bread, and inadequate clothing.

Dominic Lim called 911 after he realized he was in trouble. North Shore Rescue hunkered down with him overnight and rescued him by helicopter at first light Sept. 27. (North Shore Rescue)

Just hours earlier N.S.R. helped a hiker near Eagle Lake in West Vancouver.

It's been a record year for North Shore Rescue with 30-40 more calls for service than average.

During August rescuers answered 14 calls in 14 days, hitting a total of 29 calls for rescue by month's end. September has kept pace, especially with mild weather.  More people are getting into distress in remote areas of the North Shore mountains.This weekend a recreational hike for rescue workers was postponed, because they had to stay on duty.

All this despite repeated pleas for hikers to plan ahead for backcountry adventure. Hikers are urged to share their plans and take communication devices capable of calling out from remote areas.

"I sound like a broken-record but we need people to leave a detailed trip plan," said Mike Danks, a North Shore Rescue search manager.

"Tell somebody when to call for help and give them all the information we're going to need if that happens."

Crews spent a cold Thursday night on the Howe Sound Crest trail looking for a hiker from Oregon, who was eventually located with mild hypothermia.

He had forgotten a rain jacket and couldn't make it to his intended destination in the time he planned for it to take.

Earlier this week, a couple in their 50s from Richmond went missing while on a trail on Mount Seymour and North Shore Rescue says it had very little information to go on in trying to locate the couple.

All the extra work is taking it's toll on rescuers, says Danks.

"People are getting injured, and they're very tired from being out all night and then going to work in the morning.

Now Danks is hoping for a respite, but is unlikely to get it as a favourable forecast for the weekend will most likely mean many people out in the backcountry yet again.

"The weather has been fantastic. We encourage people to get out and enjoy the wilderness ... [but] bring the ten essentials," he said.

  • Light.
  • Signalling device.
  • Fire starter.
  • Extra clothes.
  • Pocketknife.
  • Shelter.
  • Water and food.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Navigation tool.
  • Communications i.e. cell phone.

"We're really hoping something can change because at this rate, it's not sustainable going forward," Danks said.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled North Shore Rescue volunteers taxed to limit with surge in calls with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.