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Mountaineer shocked at ill-prepared hikers ascending snow-covered B.C. peak

Clinton Rennie thinks there should be more signage warning of dangers
Rick Laing leads the Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue team. (THE NEWS/files)

A retired paramedic with about 25 years of mountaineering experience – globally – was shocked during a recent hike to Evan’s Peak, at the people he was encountering along the way.

People who were wearing sneakers, jeans and cotton shirts, and overall ill-prepared for the conditions on the mountain.

And with many people preparing to get out and enjoy nature during the holidays, Langley resident Clinton Rennie wants to warn hikers to be prepared if venturing along mountainous hikes.

He was breaking ground late November during a hike to the peak. He started off from the parking lot in Golden Ears Provincial Park at around 7:30 a.m., wearing all synthetic gear in addition to technical boots.

During the hike he encountered a lot of snow and ice, he said.

There’s a little rocky section along the trail to the summit where somebody has put in a rope that was covered in ice.

“I’m smashing off the ice, I’m looking for footholds,” he said.

But once he got past that point he was about knee to mid-thigh deep in snow.

After a celebratory hot chocolate at the peak, he made his way down again.

As he descended, between 11 and 2 p.m., he came across about 10 to 12 hikers – none of them prepared for the conditions, he said.

Rennie would ask people where they were going and if they had hiked the trail before. Not a single person he asked had actually hiked to Evan’s Peak before.

“I’m thinking holy smokes you guys are going to get trapped or worse,” he said, noticing the inappropriate clothing and lack of equipment.

“I had multi-layer, full synthetic gear on and I was still wet, like, I’m not comfortable. I’m warm but I’m wet,” he said.

“I ran into one gentleman (who) had sneakers on, jeans on and a cotton long sleeve shirt and I just thought, you’re going to die here,” he added.

Rennie also noted how late in the day the hikers were making their way up.

“It’s a late start. They’re still going up,” he noted.

“I’m thinking I’ve got head lamps and everything, but, I don’t think they realize how dark it gets and how quickly.

“And you’re in the canopy of the trees,” he added.

Rennie thinks there should be more signage along the trails alerting hikers to the fact that they are entering the alpine area.

Signage that Rick Laing, who heads up the local search and rescue team, doesn’t think will help.

“By that time people have already made the commitment to hike the trail,” Laing said, adding that hikers will either think they are prepared enough or that they are not driving home for more gear.

“How much do you have to babysit people,” he asked, explaining that they see ill-prepared people hiking the trail all the time – people who don’t bring flashlights, they don’t have warm clothes, they have improper footwear.

“I don’t know how much more we can do to advise the public, you have to take these precautions,” he said.

He’s surprised there are not more rescues along the route to Evan’s and Golden Ears peaks for people who are ill-prepared.

“It’s just blind luck that they get off the mountain safely,” he said.

RELATED: Maple Ridge back-country deadly during avalanche season, but difficult to get to

There is a sign at the Mike Lake turnoff, Laing said, warning people they are heading into the wilderness area, to be prepared for conditions, and to let someone know where they are going.

“I don’t think that more signage would make a change,” he said.

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With snow in the forecast Laing is warning people, again, if they are not prepared not to go into the back country, because it can lead to deadly consequences.

Avalanche danger is also going to go up, he said, adding that hikers should have the proper avalanche equipment and training.

“Especially in this kind of weather, they’ve got to be extra, extra careful.”

For more information about safety when hiking in the mountains go to

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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