“A legend of the mountain”: a founding member of North Shore Rescue has passed away

One of the founding members of a well-known search and rescue organization in British Columbia has passed away.

Karl Winter was not only an original member, but was the first team leader of North Shore Rescue (NSR) and has been described by those who knew him as a “legend of the mountain”.

In one Facebook post, North Shore Rescue said Winter died on December 31, 2021 of natural causes.

The post shares a few stories about Winter’s contribution to the mountain rescue community, described by Gerry Brewer, another founding member of NSR.

Winter was born in Germany, but soon after arriving in British Columbia he joined the Mountain Rescue Group and the Alpine Club of Canada.

“Within three years of arriving, with no English, (Winter) was teaching mountaineering skills and leading club climbs,” says Brewer.

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Brewer describes some of Winter’s incredible rescues and accomplishments.

He was trapped for three days in a snow cave on Mount McKinley and was able to descend in chest-deep snow to retrieve supplies from their buried tent. Everyone survived.

In 1965, he was sent to Granduc Yukon after avalanches buried a mining camp. Twenty-eight men died in the tragedy.

That same year, Winter and a friend responded to an ad asking people to volunteer for a civil defense group. It was this meeting that marked the beginning of NSR.

“He then took us from a group of ‘bushwhackers’, as he called us, to the early days of a mountain rescue group,” Brewer wrote.

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Winter and his wife Mary went on to become Saint Bernard dog breeders and were recognized by Smithsonian Magazine as top breeders.

“(Winter’s) mountaineering skills were tested frequently over the more than 35 years he was an active member of the NSR,” Brewer wrote.

“Many owe a debt of gratitude to his efforts.”

Winter and his wife had two sons and eventually four grandchildren.

As of December 29, North Shore Rescue had been called up to 223 tasks in 2021 alone.

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