A Vancouver search and rescue group says it finally managed to convince Google Maps to remove a nonexistent hiking trail on the north side of Mount Fromme that could have stranded many hikers and even led to a death.
North Shore Rescue wrote on Facebook that the fake trail, which supposedly led from Mount Fromme to nearby Kennedy Falls, was removed from Google Maps on November 6, two days after a lost hiker had to be airlifted of the region.
“To be clear, the area in question has no trails and is very steep with numerous cliff bands throughout,” the volunteer organization wrote in a previous post. “The area is clearly unsafe as it has been the scene of a previous death.”
Two years ago, a hiker died on the cliffs north of Mount Fromme, according to the group. PKBNEWS reported in 2021 that a man separated from his hiking partner between Mount Fromme and Kennedy Falls was found dead in steep terrain.
The most recent rescue occurred Nov. 4 when North Shore Rescue learned a hiker was stranded after similarly attempting to climb Fromme from the Kennedy Falls area.
Rescuers had to race against time to locate the missing hiker before low cloud cover made an airlift by helicopter impossible.
The hiker did not have a flashlight on him and therefore could not be spotted from the air through the dense canopy. To search the area, two rescue technicians were lowered and used a rope belay system to safely navigate the steep terrain.
“The team was able to locate the subject, put him in a harness and bring him safely to a location where he and the team could be extracted by helicopter – just before the clouds closed in and would not otherwise have prevented helicopter access. “” wrote the group on Facebook.
A month earlier, the group had had to rescue another hiker from the same area.
North Shore Rescue wrote in September that it was called to a rescue mission after a hiker called 911, saying he was stuck on a cliff on the north side of Mount Fromme and didn’t know how much longer he could last.
As the sun had already set at that time, a rescue team equipped with night vision goggles was deployed to the area by helicopter.
“During this time, the subject called 911 again and said he was having trouble holding on,” the group wrote.
The hiker was able to flag down the rescue helicopter using his phone’s flashlight and two rescue technicians were lowered to his location. Rescuers placed the hiker in a harness and were able to lift him into the helicopter.
In fashion now
In the weeks following that rescue, North Shore Rescue said it placed warning signs in the area north of Mount Fromme warning that there were no trails. Apparently the signs weren’t enough to keep the second hiker from getting lost on November 4th.
North Shore Rescue said it attempted to contact Google Maps to remove the nonexistent trail, but did not receive a response until November 6. The rescue group thanked community members for reporting the false trail and reporting the issue to Google.
The group writes that there are “some ‘lessons learned’ from this situation.”
“First, it is simply not appropriate to navigate the wilderness using ‘city map’ programs like Google Maps,” the organization states, recommending hikers use programs designed specifically for the outdoors such as such as CalTopo or Gaia GPS.
North Shore Rescue also advises using “a good old paper map and compa*s” and encourages hikers to bring essential equipment like a power bank, good shoes and a flashlight.
It’s unclear how the non-existent trail ended up on Google Maps.
In a statement to the New York Times, Google said: “We use a variety of sources to update Google Maps, including third-party information, images, and feedback from our community. »
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