Changing weather dangerous for hikers

Changing weather dangerous for hikers

A weekend hiking trip to Mount Albert in Strathcona Park turned to a search and rescue of a pair from Vancouver. Dean Stoltz reports. 

In Strathcona Park, Mount Albert was obscured by cloud Monday. Visibility was poor as showers and gusty winds swept across the popular hiking area.

However, on Saturday it was clear and warm when two hikers from Vancouver headed into Strathcona Park.

“An uncle and his 15-year-old niece had hiked into Circlet Lake in beautiful weather on Saturday and then left camp early yesterday morning, four o’clock hit the summit just as the wind and fog and rain and everything blew in.” said Comox Valley Ground SAR’s Paul Berry.

They found their way up but could not get down the mountain because the weather changed so rapidly. They used a cell phone with a dying battery to call for help.

When searchers got to them Sunday afternoon, they were found to be unprepared for the changing weather.

“They weren’t prepared for the incoming weather,” said Berry. “They had a shell jacket, no rain gear and they were pretty wet and cold. Very quickly we were seeing a significant drop in temperature and they were wet, they were in the early stages of hypothermia.”

The cold stormy weather they became trapped in Sunday was because of a strong cold front that blasted across the island.

“This is a bit of a return to normal in a way,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau. “What we saw the last couple of days is a frontal system come off the pacific with a cold front sweep across and it’s a much more typical kind of weather pattern especially as we get into fall that we expect to see.”

The change in the weather has prompted the Coastal Fire Centre to lift the campfire ban on Vancouver Island.

Open burning bans do remain in effect except for the fog zone on the west coast.

“You need to be prepared to get caught and go overnight” continued Berry. “We encourage everyone to look to our prevention site which is and look to see what those ten essentials are that you should be carrying with you every time you go into the back country.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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