Google Maps Sends A Hiker Off A Cliff, Forcing A Helicopter Rescue, Because He Followed A Phantom Hiking Trail

NBC. Getty Images.

Note: That's not the hiker in question. That's some other guy from a Bear Grylls show. But he doesn't look thrilled either. 

Damn you, Google Maps! Damn you for hooking us on your perfect interface with its playful colors and sultry female voice. You made everything so goddamn easy that we don't even care to learn where we're going, where we are, or where we've been. You thrust a techy middle finger at a Dr. Seuss poem and now we leave our houses without a care in the world. We'll get there! Wherever we need to go, Google Maps will carry us safely tucked under its gossamer wings, designed in California but assembled in China.

Except, as it turns out, when you're hiking deep into the wilderness of British Columbia…


An unprepared hiker had to be rescued by helicopter in British Columbia, Canada, after reportedly following a phantom trail on Google Maps.

On Saturday 4 November, a team of two helicopter rescue technicians were hoisted in to evacuate an individual stranded on a cliff on the backside of Mount Fromme after climbing from the Kennedy Falls area.

A low cloud ceiling and dense tree canopy meant the hiker could not be spotted from the air.

Previously, a non-existent trail in the area was visible on Google Maps.

NSR has since received word that the fake trail north of Fromme has been deleted from the app.

“It is simply not appropriate to navigate in the wilderness using ‘urban street map’ programs like Google Maps,” said NSR. “Trip planning beyond looking at Google Maps would have shown no trails in this area.”

Imagine you're walking along a glorious, mountainous trail. All around you, dappled sunlight filters through the pines and your heavenly march is scored only by the creaking joints of trees and a woodwind section of birds tuning their beaks for today's symphony. Your heart swells with an appreciation for nature, for such rare moments as these. The revery is shattered when your phone squawks to turn right in fifty feet. It doesn't look like trail, but who are you to disobey the voice of God, of technology, of progress and industry itself?

Huh. This is getting steep. Thought this was the medium difficulty trail. Ha ha. 

Help. Help me. 

And now you're clinging to a sheer cliff face like an Alex Honnold imitator with zero experience or confidence. All because Google Maps said this was the way. 

What's the going rate for a two-helicopter rescue? How does that insurance deductible shake out? Gotta believe his premiums are going up next year. With any luck, Google will foot the bill for this one. 

Love NSR, aka North Shore Rescue, taking shots at Google maps by calling it an "urban street map program." As in hey fuckface, save your navigation on Google Maps for when you want to find the best matcha latte in a five-block radius. Up here, God's country? Gonna need a little more planning.