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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lost in the Back Country

I've been hiking, fishing, hunting and exploring in BC's back country for over 50 years. I've made some mistakes and done some stupid things but have always managed to get back to civilization.

I'm really concerned about the number of people, lately, who need to be rescued because they lost their way or went in a direction that promised difficulty....why is this ??
Do people not look at maps before they venture into the back country (primarily North Shore Mtns) or do they just assume that the rescue groups will get them out...help me out here;.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 08:59 PM
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It used to be that Search and Rescue would help rescue injured climbers and hikers. There is always going to be a need for that. But the big increase in calls would seem to be for those that take no personal responsibility for their actions. ie. not carrying the basic essentials, didn't plan ahead, got in over their head when inexperienced, etc. I think we need a whole lot more education of the public to reduce the number of SAR calls.
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if you're not hiking you should be skiing
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 02:24 PM
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Education is one element, popularity of outdoor activities also seems to be on an upswing (which feeds into lack of education). In the case of the North Shore, accessibility also plays a big part, its fairly easy to get into hairy terrain if you're not familiar with what you're doing.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 02:39 PM
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yes, and ever increasing population size without leaps and bounds. Resources == constant, demand++

great point about North Shore though; public transit accessible, and terrain/conditions can get quite wicked fast. In YYC at least you can't get in trouble on Nose Hill or Fish Creek (or can you?)
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
yes, and ever increasing population size without leaps and bounds. Resources == constant, demand++

great point about North Shore though; public transit accessible, and terrain/conditions can get quite wicked fast. In YYC at least you can't get in trouble on Nose Hill or Fish Creek (or can you?)
I haven't heard of anyone being forced to overnight on Nose Hill because they couldn't get the helicopter in
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by dlofting View Post
I've been hiking, fishing, hunting and exploring in BC's back country for over 50 years. I've made some mistakes and done some stupid things but have always managed to get back to civilization.

I'm really concerned about the number of people, lately, who need to be rescued because they lost their way or went in a direction that promised difficulty....why is this ??
Do people not look at maps before they venture into the back country (primarily North Shore Mtns) or do they just assume that the rescue groups will get them out...help me out here;.
I think it's a bit of both + lots of other reasons. Decades ago backcountry recreation may not have been as popular as it is now and this caused people to exercise more caution before heading out - because there was generally a lot less info floating around. Now, everyone's doing it (as illustrated on social media, media, TV commercials, etc.), so how hard can it be? This causes people to head out under-prepared and get themselves in trouble.

Other reasons:
- They're not from around here (not from BC).
- The extent of their research was a poorly written reference with vague details (i.e. the top 10 lists that circulate the net).
- They're not used to snow travel (reason for lots of early summer calls I assume).
- As mentioned by others above, difficult terrain can be very easy to access.
- The number of times you hear about rescues on the news - may plant in a lost hiker's mind that they should just call SAR (not saying this is a bad thing).

Ultimately, I think it comes down to not enough research & preparation. If they didn't look at hike stats and/or a map, and they don't have a GPS or any other essentials, how would they even start to help themselves?

SAR incident summaries is interesting to look at for objective data. Personally, I assume most calls are lost hikers because that's usually what I hear on the news. Various reports show loads of other types of calls too that we don't hear about:
http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/emergency-response-and-recovery/incident-summaries

Good question.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlofting View Post
I'm really concerned about the number of people, lately, who need to be rescued because they lost their way or went in a direction that promised difficulty....why is this ??
Do people not look at maps before they venture into the back country (primarily North Shore Mtns) or do they just assume that the rescue groups will get them out...help me out here;.

We're becoming an increasingly urbanized country with less tactile attachment to the non-urban landscape of our country. in 1911 45% of Canadians lived in cities, today 81% live in cities. Millions of urban dwellers see the wilderness in abstract terms, something akin to a beautiful wonderland but lacking awareness of the utter disinterest that wilderness has in our well being. Media everywhere portrays Nature as kind, beneficent, embracing when, aside from its immense splendour, it is also ferocious and fully dispassionate about who or what we are. We on CT know this truth: that wilderness will awe you but it can also kill you. Few of our fellow citizens truly grasp this and such will not be known by dashing up the Grouse Grind, no matter how fit you are.


As a 1960's kid growing up in east end Vancouver summers were all about rough and tumble hunting, fishing and camping trips. There was no MEC, no spandex, no Gore-Tex, GPS, beacons or SatPhones. Our outdoor gear was purchased from army surplus stores like 3-Vets. Most kids, boys and girls, ached for the Summer camp weeks at places like Camp Artaban, Camp Fircom, Potlatch, Anvil and Latona and for a few of us, Outward Bound in Keremeos. At these places we were taught to use a compass, to find our way back from a hike, to build a fire from dry, dead cedar in a rainy forest. There was no wi fi, fish hooks got caught in our hands and our rustic tents were made of smelly canvas. Every boy I knew had a hunting knife.


These were the themes, in cities across Canada. The 'woods' were out there, wonderful, challenging even harsh, but that's where we went. Wilderness was not abstract it was part of the country and it could hurt us but that was Ok because that hurt also taught us to be careful.

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlofting View Post
Do people not look at maps before they venture into the back country (primarily North Shore Mtns) or do they just assume that the rescue groups will get them out...help me out here;.
Probably both?

Personally and anecdotally, I look to the Instagram generation. Someone sees a nice pic on social media - usually IG - and decides they want the 'gram on their own feed. They do little to no research and preparation, and ultimately get into trouble. Related to that, I think, is just an overall increase in the number of people getting outdoors, again linked to the selfie/social media generation. It's cool to go hiking these days. Also related to that, on the north shore I specifically blame those "top 10 hikes", "top 5 waterfalls" type of click-baity posts from news aggregator sites (I refuse to give them any traffic by linking to them) that don't contain any safety info about the route or conditions (or worse, use a summer pic in a blog entry from April when the hike has 2m of snow on the ground).) I personally think you can tie some SAR calls, or calls in specific areas (cough-Kennedy Falls-cough) to exactly those posts.

And also, what Ashi said above.

-Ryan
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 12:40 AM
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I know a CT member who was the subject of a search over the weekend.

6 hrs late for pickup and no SPOT message

Turned out he detoured and his batteries were dead.

If he hadn't had young kids at home and been out for a weekend of mountaineering with his wife its unlikely a rescue would have been called on him.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 02:02 AM
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I happen to know the same CT member who probably gave the CT Moderator a generous interpretation about what happened there.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 02:11 AM
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... and the plot thickens ...
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tenderfoot View Post
I happen to know the same CT member who probably gave the CT Moderator a generous interpretation about what happened there.
I'm just glad it wasn't a promo for the next season of his reality TV show
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 04:37 PM
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A couple interesting articles on the data and potential reasoning for increasing SAR Call volume in BC:

http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2017/02/call-volume-trends/

http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2017/01/call-volume-province/
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by drie View Post
A couple interesting articles on the data and potential reasoning for increasing SAR Call volume in BC:

http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2017/02/call-volume-trends/

http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2017/01/call-volume-province/
Ding, off goes my backlink alarm.

Interesting discussion. The sad truth is that we don't know. Neither BC nor the rest of Canada gather the kind of statistics that would let us analyse what is causing an uptick in rescues - a very disappointing situation to be in. I have hopes that this might be fixed soon, but even if we install a system that gathers the right kind of data it will be at least 3 years before we could take a stab at an analysis.

Of course this lets us speculate to our hearts content.

The biggest issue is that SAR looks a lot different in other parts of the province than in the lower mainland so most of us in the South West of the province, or those of us who only watch TV will have a very skewed picture. Most of the SAR that makes the evening news is heavily dominated by incident proximity to Vancouver.

My personal feeling is that the current trend is being driven by population increase, and social media.

More people in the backcountry means more risk, and more rescues. More people can be driven by the popularity of backcountry sports, or just more people in general (and the percentage of people taking part in those sports remaining relatively constant).

The other factor, labelled as "social media" I believe has a more complex and nuanced cause. People are gathering information via the internet - whether it's social media or a trail web site. This information might contain where the trailhead is, how long it takes, relative efforts, and pictures and ratings by other hikers. However this "information" doesn't translate into knowledge.

So people feel empowered by the internet - the barrier to entry into the sport of hiking is very low. You don't need to join a club or meet someone to be your mentor, you can just head out. The issue is that the things you don't know will kill you. This is why I was not surprised last year when we long lined a young, solo hiker wearing the equivalent of comfortable mall clothing while sitting on a ledge between a cliff above and a cliff below.

Of course, this is just speculation with no real evidence to back it up.
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Mountaineer, SAR Volunteer and author of TrueNorth Geospatial http://www.TrueNorthGeospatial.com
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 07:13 PM
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people blindly believing their electronic gadgets not having a clue about a real paper map(how to read it)-compass-bearings(to and from)-triangulation.
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