Hikers warned to stay off Grouse Grind despite avalanche false alarm
CTV British Columbia
Published Sunday, December 23, 2012 4:34PM PST
Last Updated Sunday, December 23, 2012 6:26PM PST
A report of an avalanche on a popular B.C. mountain trail on Sunday turned out to be a false alarm, but officials are still warning people to obey the rules and stay away from out-of-bound areas.
Rescue crews were called to the Grouse Grind in the North Shore around 10:30 a.m. Sunday after several reports of an avalanche on the trail. Tim Jones with North Shore Search and Rescue said a 12-man response team was dispatched to assess the situation.
It turns out there was no avalanche, only that a tree had fallen across the trail, Metro Vancouver said. A report that a hiker going up the trail was in trouble also proved to be false.
“The individuals that go up the trail, it’s a real conundrum,” said Ken Juvik, a watershed forester with Metro Vancouver. “We can’t fence the whole mountain.”
Sunday’s incident occurred at a time when North Shore Search and Rescue’s resources are already stretched very thin. Less than 24 hours earlier, crews rescued a stranded snowboarder on Cypress Mountain. The 30-year-old man had ventured out of bounds into the Montizambert Creek area on Saturday afternoon, and managed to make it down the mountain with the help of rescuers around midnight.
“We’re just going from call to call to call,” said Jones on Sunday, referring to the response on the Grouse Grind. “We have to really keep our minds straight on this and not get too distracted because we’re busy.”
Even though search-and-rescuers have warned skiers and snowboarders to stay inbounds, and the Grouse Grind has been closed since the fall, many people continue to ignore the warnings, said Juvik.
“All agencies are doing a very good job getting the message out, but there are people clearly not taking heed of that and making their own decisions to go up there,” he said. “Unfortunately, when they do that, they’re not only taking risks themselves, they’re endangering lives of a number of responders and agencies out there and that’s a problem.”
There are currently no fines issued to people who hike on the Grouse Grind during the winter. Juvik said the issue of fines can be controversial.
“The discussion sometimes ensues, if there are fines, people will be reluctant to call in and ask for help if they get themselves into a situation,” he said. “It becomes a broader social issue--how to manage these people who clearly can’t abide by the rules and endanger people at the same time?”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Scott Hurst