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Rescues keep Parks staff busy

Rescuers in Banff National Park are keeping busy now that summer has finally arrived, responding to calls concerning everything from broken ankles to overdue hikers and a dead kayaker. In the last two weeks, the number of calls has been ramping up.
Parks Canada rescuers help out a woman who broke her ankle at Wapta Falls on the weekend.
Parks Canada rescuers help out a woman who broke her ankle at Wapta Falls on the weekend.

Rescuers in Banff National Park are keeping busy now that summer has finally arrived, responding to calls concerning everything from broken ankles to overdue hikers and a dead kayaker.

In the last two weeks, the number of calls has been ramping up.

“There’s been a bunch of incidents going on that are typical of the busy season,” said Marc Ledwidge, visitor safety manager for the mountain national parks.

“Now that weather is getting good, we kind of expect that it’s going to keep going.”

On Sunday (July 3), a six-year-old girl from Canmore needed to be flown from the Goat Creek Trail between Banff and Canmore when an unexpected storm came crashing in.

“It was a beautiful morning and then that wicked storm came in,” said Ledwidge.

“She was suffering from hypothermia, so we flew in and picked her up. She was fine once we got her out.”

The rescue team was also kept busy responding to overdue hikers on the weekend, as well as a 37-year-old woman from Calgary who broke her ankle while hiking at Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park.

A week earlier an experienced whitewater kayaker from New Zealand died after getting trapped under water at Redearth Creek, west of the Banff townsite.

Simon Davidson, 20, and friends had been kayaking the falls in Johnston Creek a couple of days earlier, but headed to the rapidly running Redearth Creek on June 21.

The skilled kayaker paddled over nine-metre Jugbuster Falls around 3 p.m., but did not emerge from the pool below until almost two minutes later. His unconscious body was swept downstream in the strong current.

“He did the big drop and didn’t come out of the hole for quite a while,” said Ledwidge.

Friends chased him downstream in the kayak, but could not get to him. They then raced to the nearby Trans-Canada Highway and used a cell phone to raise the alarm.

In some tricky flying, helicopter pilot Lance Cooper managed to get two Parks Canada rescuers into the 100-foot canyon where Davidson’s body ended up.

Rescuers were able to get to him and then met Banff EMS crews on the highway. Davidson was pronounced dead in Mineral Springs Hospital later that day.

Davidson had been living in Golden, B.C. for about the last seven weeks, where he was working as a rafting guide before the accident.

On June 26, Parks Canada got a call of some overdue climbers on Mount Louis, located in the Forty Mile Creek valley near the Town of Banff.

The two Calgarians, believed to be in their late 30s, had spent a cold – and snowy – night on the 2,682-metre peak, after getting lost and going off route on the descent.

“They had started too late on Saturday, got lost a couple of times, and then went off route on the rappel route,” said Ledwidge.

“We ended up slinging two guys in there and slinging them out. They were fine. They hadn’t planned on spending the night out, so they were cold.”


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