A hiking trail for Mount Fromme area in Canada’s British Columbia has been deleted by Google Maps, after a fatality two years ago and now emergency rescues of two further hikers.
“Extremely steep and dangerous”
Mount Fromme is in the North Shore mountains that stand sentinel-like over Vancouver. There are parks and trails in the mountains, including the Seymour Valley paved bicycle route to Seymour Lake, and Grouse Grind, a steep, 2.5 km (1.5 mile) trail also dubbed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”.
Elsewhere though the landscape is riddled with cliffs and precipices and can be dangerous due to unpredictable weather conditions and poor visibility.
To make matters worse, hikers have found themselves stranded and at risk of injury or even death due to an unofficial and “non-existent” trail that Google Maps has now deleted following a request from North Shore Rescue (NSR). The trail appeared to set out from the summit of Mount Fromme towards Kennedy Falls, but in fact tempted unsuspecting or poorly informed people onto “extremely steep and dangerous terrain”.
Stuck on a cliff
A hiker died there two years ago and two more have needed rescue in the space of two months. The latest victim of the fake trail was an unidentified male, who on 4 November got himself stuck on a cliff on the north side of Fromme, could not be seen from the air due to overhanging foliage and low cloud, and had to be rescued in a complex operation that saw NSR crew members belaying up to him from 100 metres below, bringing him down in a harness, and only then winching him out by helicopter.
A similar rescue had to be carried out in September. To avoid further danger to life, NSR volunteers posted warning signs all over the area and contacted Google Maps.
“This morning NSR received word that our Google Map request has been processed and the non-existent trail north of Fromme has been deleted,” said NSR on its social media pages. “Thanks to Google for the update, and extra special thanks to the efforts of everyone further to our post this weekend!”
Coffee shops not mountain tops
Travel Tomorrow has previously reported on problems users have had navigating with Google Maps due to the app’s lack of geographical information on surroundings and prioritisation of business and retail transit. Though the company has since updated their map style, speaking to CBC, British Columbia’s Search and Rescue Association senior manager, Dwight Yochim, said it remains an urban app that might help people finding a coffee shop, but is an inappropriate tool for hiking.
Yochim recommends AllTrails, Gaia or Strava, but also remarked that he preferred “the map and compass. My map has never run out of batteries.” His words were endorsed by NSR, who advise: “Of course, if you do use your phone for navigation… be sure to carry a spare, charged external battery, as mapping programs can quickly drain your phone’s battery, especially in the cold.”