The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)

B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

The recent death of a 21-year-old Instagram influencer and a surge in rescues in the North Shore have sparked concerns about unequipped hikers tackling B.C.’s tumultuous mountain terrain.

North Shore Rescue search manager Doug Pope said during the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists and locals have taken to the outdoors instead of travelling out of province.

“They’re buying snowshoes and trying to go for a hike in the mountains,” Pope explained.

Such a plan comes with its dangers though: “Right now, the North Shore mountains are very hard and icy. There are a lot of dangers.”

It’s something the world witnessed with news of the SAR team’s recovery of Nikki Donnelly’s body on a trail near Cypress Mountain last Friday.

The Instagram influencer was snowshoeing a popular hiking trail, leading up to St. Mark’s summit.

“A lot of people don’t realize that after the first kilometre of trail, you’re crossing through all avalanche pass,” Pope stressed, “which can be deadly.”

As well, fresh snow makes the trail harder to follow, he added. Which seemed to be the case with Donnelly, who called her boyfriend on Jan. 15, alerting him that she was lost.

Mishaps, including being unprepared for the weather conditions, have resulted in a significant influx of calls to the North Shore Rescue team – with 151 recorded in 2019.

In the previous year, the team saw only 144 calls for help made. The total number of calls for 2020 has not yet been totalled.

READ MORE: Night-vision goggles to support search and rescue on North Shore

“People who go beyond the ski resort areas at places and mountains including Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress, are in areas without cell phone reception,” Pope warned.

Satellite beacons to call for help, proper hiking shoes with spikes, clamp-ons, and even an ice axe can be essential tools during North Shore treks in the winter.

“Knowing when to turn around in those situations is also an important thing to think about,” Pope said.

“Follow your own footsteps back if you think you’ve gotten off-course.”

On Tuesday (Jan. 19), the North Shore Rescue team extracted a Vancouver couple who called 911 after slipping on a portion of Tim Jones Peak on their way to the top of Mount Seymour.

Pope said the traverse has caused significant injuries to people who have fallen, including broken legs, a broken neck and other head injuries.

Luckily, the couple was rescued without serious harm.



sarahleonagrochowski@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC ParksDeathhikingSearch and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read