Busy weekend for search and rescue crews

Surrey man saved after spending four days stuck on cliff

A 45-year-old Surrey man is safe after spending four days stuck on a cliff in a remote part of Golden Ears Provincial Park.

His was just one of the calls Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue attended over what was a busy Labour Day long weekend for volunteers.

Ridge Meadows SAR  received a call about an overdue hiker Friday afternoon. The man had planned to hike in a remote area east of Pitt Lake, and was supposed to have returned Aug. 29. A text message the man had sent put him in the Tingle Peak area, near Hector Ferguson Lake.

“It was an ambitious hike,” said Rick Laing of Ridge Meadows SAR.

Crews found the man’s truck parked at Grant Narrows Provincial Park at the south end of Pitt Lake. Crews searched the trail head, which was accessible only by boat, but no boat was found in the area. Unbeknownst to the search party, the engine on the man’s inflatable boat had failed, and he opted instead to hike further south than he had intended.

Rescue crews from Coquitlam, North Shore, and Central Fraser Valley were all called in to help with the search, and a helicopter was deployed to aid crews on the ground. They eventually found the man’s boat and gear, but crews working through the night were unable to spot him on the trail.

The next day, the helicopter crew spotted the man stuck on a cliffside with a fire going, frantically waving.

“He was pretty happy to see us,” said Laing.

While climbing down from a mountain ridge, Laing said the man had lost his way in the clouds, and found himself stuck on the steep mountainside.

“Where he was, he couldn’t get up or down,” said Laing.

Despite having spent four days on the cliff, the man appeared to be healthy and unhurt.

“He wasn’t too dehydrated, and he had been rationing his food and eating berries,” said Laing. “He was very sore and tired. He looked like he’d been in the bush.”

Local rescue crews were also called out to Pitt Lake Monday morning after receiving a dropped call to 911 about a broken down boat.

The boat had suffered engine trouble around midnight, forcing the boaters to stay out on the lake overnight. Rescue crews were able to find the boat and tow it back down the lake.

“Cell reception is very bad up there,” said Laing, adding that proper boat maintenance is critical if you are travelling to remote areas, such as Pitt Lake. “You never know if someone is going to come by or not.”

Ridge Meadows SAR was  also to assist Surrey Search and Rescue with a missing person on Sunday.