May 20, 2018 9:43 pm
Updated: May 22, 2018 1:00 am

North Shore Rescue on track for busiest year yet

WATCH: The sun may be shining and the temperature heating up but North Shore Rescue says it's still winter in the mountains and as Tanya Beja reports, crews are concerned about the number of calls they've already received this season.

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It could be shaping up to be a record breaking year for North Shore Rescue (NSR) search and rescue volunteers.

The team says it has already responded to 42 calls in 2018. By this time last year, they’d handled 29 calls. In 2016, it was 35.

LISTEN: Busy start to 2018 for NSR

“If you look at our last four years our call volume has gone up 30 per cent, so it is certainly an increase, but I think if you look at the amount of people who are actually getting out and hiking on the North Shore that number has definitely go up,” said team leader Mike Danks.

READ MORE: 2017 was a busy year for North Shore Search and Rescue


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NSR responded to more than 123 calls last year, and nearly 140 in 2015. Prior to that, it had averaged 90-100 calls per year.

He said the team has been lucky so far this May long weekend, with just one call for hikers lost on Mt. Seymour.

Danks said the team is equipped to handle the increase in volume, but that success in part depends on limiting the number of unnecessary calls they’re tasked with.

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He said many injuries in the backcountry are unavoidable, but other calls can be frustrating.

“There’s a lot of people that are prepared and have appropriate clothing and footwear on them, but there’s also a lot of people that are incredibly naive and are not prepared for the trails physically, or even bringing extra equipment and food and water with them.”

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While population growth is one factor leading the increases, Danks said social media is another.

Pictures and video of stunning peaks often draws people into the backcountry, often unprepared for the conditions.

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“People will post a picture of St. Mark’s Summit from last summer,” he said.

“And it won’t show any snow up there and people will think that’s the current condition and say, ‘Oh, there’s no snow up there, I’ll be fine to go up in my runners. And if you look at the backcountry right now we still have a significant amount of snow up there.”

WATCH: Busy year for North Shore Rescue

While no one intends to get lost or hurt while on a hike, Danks is reminding the public of simple steps they can take that can prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

He said hikers should always let someone know where they are going and when they are due back. Failing that, he recommends leaving a note in their car or at home with the same information.

And he said packing properly should never be overlooked.

Backcountry users should have proper footwear, extra clothing, a first aid kit, food and a flashlight in case they get caught out after dark.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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