ne of the founding members of a well-known search and rescue organization in B.C. has died.
Karl Winter was not only an original member but was the first team leader of North Shore Rescue (NSR) and was described by those who knew him as a “mountain legend.”
In a Facebook post, North Shore Rescue said Winter died on Dec. 31, 2021 of natural causes.
The post shares some stories about Winter’s contribution to the mountain rescue community, described by Gerry Brewer, another founding member of NSR.
Winter was born in Germany but soon after arriving in B.C. he joined the Mountain Rescue Group and the Alpine Club of Canada.
“Within three years of his arrival, with no English, (Winter) was teaching mountaineering skills and leading club climbs,” Brewer describes.
Brewer describes some of Winter’s amazing rescues and accomplishments.
He was trapped for three days in a snow cave on Mount McKinley and was able to climb down in chest-deep snow to retrieve some supplies from their buried tent. Everyone survived.
In 1965, he was sent to Granduc after avalanches buried a mining camp. Twenty-eight men died in the tragedy.
That same year, Winter and a friend responded to an advertisement asking people to volunteer for a civil defence group. It was this meeting that was NSR’s beginning.
“He subsequently took us from a group of ‘bushwhackers’ as he called us, to the beginnings of a mountain rescue group,” Brewer wrote.
Winter and his wife Mary became St. Bernard dog breeders and were recognized by the Smithsonian Magazine as leading breeders.
“(Winter’s) mountaineering skills were frequently challenged during the 35-plus years during which he was a responding active member of NSR,” Brewer wrote.
“Many owe a debt of gratitude to his efforts.”
Winter and his wife had two sons and eventually four grandchildren.
As of Dec. 29, North Shore Rescue had been called out to 223 tasks in 2021 alone.