The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)

B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

The recent death of a 21-year-old Instagram influencer and a surge in rescues in the North Shore have sparked concerns about unequipped hikers tackling B.C.’s tumultuous mountain terrain.

North Shore Rescue search manager Doug Pope said during the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists and locals have taken to the outdoors instead of travelling out of province.

“They’re buying snowshoes and trying to go for a hike in the mountains,” Pope explained.

Such a plan comes with its dangers though: “Right now, the North Shore mountains are very hard and icy. There are a lot of dangers.”

It’s something the world witnessed with news of the SAR team’s recovery of Nikki Donnelly’s body on a trail near Cypress Mountain last Friday.

The Instagram influencer was snowshoeing a popular hiking trail, leading up to St. Mark’s summit.

“A lot of people don’t realize that after the first kilometre of trail, you’re crossing through all avalanche pass,” Pope stressed, “which can be deadly.”

As well, fresh snow makes the trail harder to follow, he added. Which seemed to be the case with Donnelly, who called her boyfriend on Jan. 15, alerting him that she was lost.

Mishaps, including being unprepared for the weather conditions, have resulted in a significant influx of calls to the North Shore Rescue team – with 151 recorded in 2019.

In the previous year, the team saw only 144 calls for help made. The total number of calls for 2020 has not yet been totalled.

READ MORE: Night-vision goggles to support search and rescue on North Shore

“People who go beyond the ski resort areas at places and mountains including Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress, are in areas without cell phone reception,” Pope warned.

Satellite beacons to call for help, proper hiking shoes with spikes, clamp-ons, and even an ice axe can be essential tools during North Shore treks in the winter.

“Knowing when to turn around in those situations is also an important thing to think about,” Pope said.

“Follow your own footsteps back if you think you’ve gotten off-course.”

On Tuesday (Jan. 19), the North Shore Rescue team extracted a Vancouver couple who called 911 after slipping on a portion of Tim Jones Peak on their way to the top of Mount Seymour.

Pope said the traverse has caused significant injuries to people who have fallen, including broken legs, a broken neck and other head injuries.

Luckily, the couple was rescued without serious harm.



sarahleonagrochowski@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC ParksDeathHikingSearch and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: More road dust continues air quality advisory in Vernon

The advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Vernon Paralympian Sonja Gaudet (right) has been named winner of a humanitarian award presented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the World Sikh Organization of Canada. (File photo)
Vernon wheelchair curler named humanitarian

Sonja Gaudet wins award from World Sikh Organization of Canada and Latter-day Saints

Third-year UBCO nursing student Thomas Pool works alongside community volunteer and registered nurse Sean Garden, as they check drug samples at Living Positive Resource Centre in downtown Kelowna (UBCO)
UBCO drug checking service now offered across Okanagan

The program is in partnership with Interior Health

Protesters stood outside the Vernon Courts Thursday, March 4, 2021, as a Curtis Wayne Sagmoen matter came before the courts once again. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
UPDATE: Sagmoen to make plea in two weeks for cop assault charge

The offence allegedly took place on Oct. 29 in Spallumcheen

(Courtesy of West Kelowna Fire Rescue)
UPDATE: West Kelowna firefighter injured in structure fire released from hospital

Crews arrived at the Ponderosa Rd. home to find the rear of the building engulfed in flames

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Mountain caribou from an endangered herd have returned to an area adjacent to the area closed to snowmobiling on Queest Mountain. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Return of caribou herd prompts temporary snowmobiling closure near Sicamous

Lake Play area on Queest Mountain closed for the second time this year

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP stock. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)
Teen grabbed while jogging in Kelowna

18-year-old woman pulled free, running home and reporting incident to police

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Most Read