Don’t rely on your cell phone when you’re in the backcountry. 

That’s what the Campbell River Search and Rescue team says. 

Over the weekend, three men went hiking near Mt. Schoen in Woss. They were trying to climb a very steep loose rock slope. They were at an elevation of 1400 metres when they decided they couldn’t continue up or down. 

They were able to text a family member to ask for a rescue.

“Somehow these subjects managed to make a phone call from their location but we then lost contact with them,” Search and Rescue manager Grant Cromer said.

“Cell phones are becoming increasingly popular in the backcountry as a primary communication device, but one should always check to see that adequate cell coverage is available and shouldn’t rely on them as a primary source.”

Campbell River SAR was called and after a reconnaissance flight by an RCMP helicopter, the team determined it would be too dangerous to try a traditional alpine rescue with ropes as the terrain’s loose rocks dislodge and slide easily. 

Campbell River’s hoist rescue team used a helicopter with a specialized hoist already set up. Two rescue techs were lowered to the three individuals and they were then hoisted into the aircraft.

Fortunately, the hikers were uninjured. 

The team flew the three to a nearby roadway, where they were released to the RCMP. 

Cromer says this highlights the importance of filing a trip plan and having an effective communication device.

“We recommend people who enter the backcountry to carry a satellite communication device, as this will provide better and more consistent coverage in times of distress,” he added.

Campbell River Search and Rescue says proper trip planning is also important as travel times and distances can be misleading due to weather, personal ability and changes in terrain. The team urges hikers to allow for extra time to complete their journey and to have adequate supplies for at least 24 hours past the return date.

For more information on backcountry safety, visit AdventureSmart.