North Shore Rescue responds to two simultaneous calls

Two backcountry adventurers had a bit of luck on their side after suffering injuries deep in the backcountry late Monday afternoon, North Shore Rescue says.

“We were enjoying a relatively quiet Family Day weekend and then all hell broke loose at 3 p.m. (Monday), when we got two simultaneous calls,” said Doug Pope, North Shore Rescue search manager.

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The first call came from a group of women who were snowshoeing the Howe Sound Crest Trail between St. Marks Summit and Unnecessary Mountain – about a five kilometre trek. A 42-year-old woman began suffering leg cramps so severe she could not walk at all.

The group was well prepared and carrying lots of extra supplies, so the team’s doctor advised the subject to drink as much Gatorade as possible to replace her depleted electrolytes.

Pope was in the midst of deploying a Talon helicopter and on the hope they could find a gap in the clouds large enough to get a ground team in when as second call came in reporting a more severe injury on Mount Seymour.

An 18-year-old man had been backcountry skiing near the base of Pump Peak within Mount Seymour Provincial Park when he ran into trouble.

“His ski broke through on an ice crust. He got pushed forward and a ski stayed buried in the snow,” Pope said. “I suspect that he broke both his tibia and fibula right at the top of his boot.”

The boy was lucky that the first person to spot him was a trained ski patroller who called for help, Pope said. And Mt. Seymour Resort sent two more in to help get the man’s broken leg splinted.

“We came in with the helicopter just as they finished splinting the poor fellow’s leg,” Pope said. “He got good care, for where he was.”

The team delivered the subject to a waiting ambulance at their Cap Gate SAR station and turned their attention back to the women on the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

“It’s pushing daylight now. We’ve got about 15 minutes left of daylight before the helicopter has to go back,” Pope said.

The woman’s friends had been dragging her south on top of a tarp while the electrolytes began to kick in. Eventually she was able to crawl and then walk, albeit slowly, without her snowshoes on.

The helicopter pilot found a spot in Strachan Meadow where it was safe to touch down and drop off a ground team, which was able to quickly meet up with the group and assist them out on foot.

Pope said the woman’s injuries underscore the importance of staying well fed and hydrated while exerting yourself, even in cold temperatures.

“As soon as you’re not feeling well, or something’s starting to go wrong, the best strategy is often just to turn around and start to head back,” Pope added.

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