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Puppy and hiker rescued from Howe Sound Crest Trail by helicopter after night in emergency shelter

The pup and it's owner were airlifted off the mountain the next morning by helicopter.

A tiny puppy wearing a winter jacket is shown in the arms of a rescuer inside a helicopter, with the helicopter pilot visible to the right of the photo.
The tiny puppy shown in the arms of a rescuer as the pair were airlifted to safety (Photo: LBSAR)

A tiny puppy and it’s owner had to be rescued by helicopter after becoming lost along the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Lions Bay Search and Rescue (LBSAR) said in a Facebook post the pair were forced to spend the night in an emergency shelter after getting lost along the trail last Friday evening. The alpine has seen several feet of snow in recent weeks with trails becoming less accessible due to increasingly harsh winter conditions.

The search party was aided in the rescue by teams from North Shore Rescue and Talon Helicopters - a flight company that regularly assists in mountain rescues.

Using night vision goggles and Talon’s night vision capable helicopter, the hiker was spotted at a cabin she had taken shelter in with the puppy, before “a radio was lowered down to confirm her identity and condition” according to a Facebook post by North Shore Rescue.

The team from LBSAR hiked up to the cabin “bringing along with them extra layers, overnight gear, food and water” and spent the night with the hiker and her puppy in the emergency shelter.

The next morning, both hiker and puppy were safely lifted “out of the field” at first light by the helicopter team.

Photos from both rescue teams show the tiny pup, which appears to possibly be an Akita or cross, in the arms of a rescuer, wrapped up in a dog jacket in the helicopter on the way out of the hike.

Other photos show the trail densely packed with snow as the helicopter looms overhead searching for the hiker.

The post by LBSAR goes on to explain how a “lack of reliable communication with subjects is often a contributing factor to the complexity of SAR callouts” which “stood out” in many of the rescues the team has completed in the last year.

A triangular shaped cabin can be seen from the view of a helicopter with its light shone on it, amidst a dark forest of trees and densely packed snow.
The emergency shelter where the hiker and her puppy was found after being spotted by the helicopter teams. (Photo: North Shore Rescue)

The post adds: “Mobile phones are great tools, but shouldn’t be relied on as your sole method of communication in the backcountry. In the winter specifically, cold can quickly affect and diminish the battery life of your phone.

“Even if you have a fully charged phone, you can’t rely on cell service in the backcountry, no matter how close you are to a major city, like Vancouver. If not a phone, then what?

“Satellite devices, such as an inReach or Spot, are great options. These devices and subscription services work virtually anywhere and often have many more useful features, such as mapping tools, tracking, access to weather forecasts, and much more.

“There are many satellite devices out there and it will require a bit of research to choose the one best suited for your adventures, but the investment is well worth it.”

North Shore Rescue recommends leaving a plan with a trusted friend or family member before heading out on a hike that “explains your destination, the route (or runs) you are taking, who is with you, and your return time. If you do not return as planned, this person can give the accurate information to the police.”

The team also advises hikers to always head out well prepared and bring the 10 essentials with them in case they do need to stay overnight as well as hiking in groups.

If you do become lost, North Shore Rescue advises that hikers do not panic and retain a positive attitude whilst remaining where they are. Many hikers become even more lost by straying from their path - and the path of rescuers - plus, heading downhill in the alpine can lead to dangerous and fatal accidents due to its rugged terrain.

Using signalling devices and building shelter are all important next steps to ensure your survival in the alpine overnight.

If you are lost and are able to use your phone, dial 911 to activate search and rescue teams, and before hiking with your dog, be sure to check out this checklist of outdoor essentials.


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