Oct 22, 2011 at 3:06 am #1280951
Hikers rescued after three-day search
BY JASON VAN RASSEL, CALGARY HERALDAUGUST 19, 2011
Three days and tens of thousands of dollars later, rescuers found three Calgary hikers unharmed after they became lost in Kananaskis Country.
It was a happy outcome, but authorities said the costly and frightening ordeal could have been avoided if the group equipped itself with an emergency beacon that costs roughly $100.
"It was a three-day-long, arduous search," said RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb.
It was also an expensive one. Webb estimated it cost $13,000 to charter helicopters used in the search – a figure that doesn't include wages and other expenses.
The effort began on Sunday, when family members reported three women, aged 33, 38 and 40, hadn't returned the previous day as planned from a three-day hike in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
Kananaskis Country wardens searched the area from the air for four hours before calling off the operation as darkness descended.
The next morning, a second chopper flight searched the same spots as the previous day before moving on to a wider area.
On the ground, three teams of searchers from Kananaskis, the RCMP and B.C. emergency services looked for the women. Poor weather prevented additional teams from participating in the ground search, as well as further aerial searches using the helicopter.
Webb said the ground search teams weren't able to make it back to the trailhead and spent the night in a backcountry patrol cabin.
Authorities stepped up the search Tuesday morning. The RCMP hired two helicopters, and British Columbia sent more searchers to the area. At 7: 45 a.m., a Kananaskis warden in one of the helicopters spotted the missing party on the B.C. side of the provincial boundary, by the Palliser River near Beatty Creek. They were tired and dehydrated, but otherwise OK, Webb said. The area where searchers found the women was several kilometres southwest of the hikers' starting point at the Interlakes day use area on the Alberta side.
The women told rescuers they became lost while descending from the North Kananaskis Pass on Saturday and weren't able to retrace their steps, despite having a map and compass. They spent the night in the Beatty Tarns area near the Palliser River and set out the next day following the waterway. The women thought they were hiking back toward Upper Kananaskis Lake – but they had become turned around and were headed in the opposite direction, into B.C.
Webb said the search was complicated by the fact the women kept moving. It's easier for searchers to find people if they stay in one place and light a fire to attract attention from the air, Webb said.
"It's important to get out in the open, where you can be seen," he said.
Webb also recommended that all parties carry emergency beacons, which send a satellite signal that can alert authorities if people get lost or encounter an emergency.
"It's like bear spray: you hope you don't need it," Webb said.
Even day hikers should prepare for mishaps, Webb added, and bring warmer clothes and gear in case they have to spend the night in the elements.
Authorities in Kananaskis have used helicopters in 32 aerial searches this year. As well, there has been a large number of missing persons reports where people have turned up safe before rescuers launch a search, Webb said.Oct 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm #1794097
Despite having a map and compass, they hiked the wrong direction… "Having", and the minor step to "knowing how to use in the most basic sense" apparently being too large of a jump! Ho ho. Everyone makes mistakes, I guess.Oct 26, 2011 at 4:16 am #1795125
"Webb also recommended that all parties carry emergency beacons, which send a satellite signal that can alert authorities if people get lost or encounter an emergency.
"It's like bear spray: you hope you don't need it," Webb said.
Even day hikers should prepare for mishaps, Webb added, and bring warmer clothes and gear in case they have to spend the night in the elements."
Getting lost in the woods is not a "mishap" and it is certainly not a good reason to activate an ELB. Getting lost is something to be expected; lots of people get lost. When it comes to ELBs, people should be encouraged not to use the darned things unless they are going to die. They should keep using their map and compass until they find a way out or until they can't walk anymore. At that point, by all means, activate that ELB. If they did that they would probably find a way out long before there would be any serious problems. So you spend an extra day or two walking. So what?Oct 26, 2011 at 5:28 am #1795132
"Getting lost is something to be expected; lots of people get lost."
Luckily I have never been lost. Unfortunately though, the trail has a habit of becoming lost from me!Oct 27, 2011 at 6:31 am #1795517
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
"Luckily I have never been lost. Unfortunately though, the trail has a habit of becoming lost from me!"
trail?Oct 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm #1796679
I hope we're not entering an era where anyone hiking without a PLB is labelled as a reckless amateur.
Getting lost can mean different things to different people. Getting lost in the 'losing the trail' sense can easily happen to anyone, but it's no big deal if you have a map, compass and the skills to use them. Conversely, getting lost in the 'I have no idea where we are on the map' sense, should never happen and if it does you've likely made a serious mistake.
A few weeks ago in Utah the trail disappeared on my wife and I. She felt we were 'lost' while I said we weren't because I still had a solid idea of where we were on the map. We likely could have retraced our steps and found the trail, but for time sake I opted to simply navigate without the trail since the walking in the canyons was pretty good. A couple hours later we popped out right where I planned. The point is that losing the trail and actually being lost are two different things.Oct 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm #1796684
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Years ago I used to lead group backpack trips to the old secret lake in Yosemite. It was completely off-trail. After a couple of nights at the lake, we would start our return to the highway. Then I would stop everybody on this nice ridge with a view and I told everybody to get out their topo maps. Everybody was supposed to figure out where we were. Then I checked them.
The first three or four people had the correct spot within a quarter-mile. This one gal, bless her heart, was directionally dyslexic. She would be lucky to find the correct spot within the state, much less within miles. She would make her guess somewhere in the wrong corner of the park.
I don't think that any degree of compass, map, or GPS receiver would help her.
–B.G.–Oct 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm #1796685
im seriously considering getting a PLB … not because of getting lost hopefully … but as the rain and snow comes, i can easily see anyone taking a slip and getting into a position where they cant extract themselves
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