Missing hiker, dog make it out of tough conditions on Cypress: NSR

A hiker and her dog were very lucky to make it out of unexpected conditions in the South Knob area of Black Mountain on Cypress Saturday evening.

North Shore Rescue (NSR) was called out for an overdue hiker by her family around 7 p.m. Saturday.

The hiker — a lone woman in her 20s — and her dog had successfully reached the South Knob and continued to the Sager Trail on the TCT Junction. Her last contact with her family was about three hours earlier when she had provided her family with her hike route and a phone location before her phone battery died.

The woman and her dog were not well equipped for the 70 to 100 centimetres of snow on the ground, NSR says. The dog did not want to move forward, and they took shelter at an outhouse at the junction for a few hours of rest and made a move with the little resource they had.

The NSR flight team responded with their night vision and talon helicopters, along with a ground team.

“We had launched a helicopter and were just beginning to search,” said NSR search manager Dave Barnett.

Eventually, the woman made it back home on her own, and she then got in contact with her family and the police.

“Then we were notified and stood down,” Barnett said.

“And it’s a good thing too, because even with the night vision goggles, if she had no lights, it still would have been tricky to locate her. We weren’t able to ping her phone, of course, because the battery was dead.”

The NSR says this hiker had done the right thing by leaving a trip plan with a trustworthy source who raised the alarm when she did not return by her set time.

“They had further shared their location on a map (providing us with an even more precise last known point), when they realized they might be running into trouble,” the rescue service said.

Barnett says the hiker did some things right, and she also did some things that she could do better next time.

“She did tell someone where she was going in. That’s excellent. We encourage everyone to do that,” he said.

“However, she was not prepared for the deep snow, didn’t have proper foot gear — snowshoes, maybe microspikes — didn’t have warm layers, any extra food or water, and her battery ran down, so she didn’t have any other navigation device once that ran out. So it was very fortunate she did leave a plan and also that she managed to make it out herself.”

The NSR reminds hikers to make sure they have all their essentials when on tough hikes, and to research the terrain and avalanche conditions before they head out.

“In this particular case, there was a lot of recent snow, and that makes for higher avalanche conditions, so people should generally stay out of the avalanche terrain until a few days after the snow has stopped and layers have had a chance to bond,” Barnett said.

The NSR also reminds people that cell batteries drain much faster in cooler weather.

“This is why we always recommend bringing an external charged battery pack with you at all times when hiking,” it said.

Barnett says he does not believe the woman or her pooch were injured in any way, but that they must have been “very cold and concerned.”

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