A pair of backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche on Saturday afternoon, and rescuers said one was taken to hospital after spending roughly five minutes buried under the snow.

North Shore Rescue Team Leader Mike Danks told CTV News only one of the pair was buried. The other was able to dig him out with the help of another group of skiers that happened to be nearby.

“Those guys really saved the day.” Danks said. “They assisted in digging out the subject and they also stabilized him and kept him warm until search and rescue got on site.”

Rescue crews long-lined the pair out of Tony Baker Gully near Cypress Mountain by helicopter at roughly 2:30 p.m. The victim who had been buried was transported to Lions Gate Hospital with serious injuries, Danks said.

“We’ve very concerned about considerable internal injuries at this time,” he said. “Our big priority was to get him to advanced care as quickly as possible.”

The other skier was seen walking around after the rescue. He declined to be interviewed on camera.

Danks said the pair were well-equipped and prepared, and that’s probably what saved the life of the victim who got buried.

“If this guy did not have his transciever on and have a friend with him that could locate him, he would not be around today, that’s for sure,” he said.

Even so, Danks said, avalanche risk remains high, and skiers should avoid going out of bounds if at all possible.

NSR first tweeted about the rescue just before 1:30 p.m.



The tweet refers to a “code alpha,” NSR’s operating procedure for dealing with avalanche rescues.

Avalanche Canada had issued warnings for the alpine and treeline areas of South Coast mountains, including Cypress, this weekend.

The organization said naturally-occurring avalanches were possible, while human-triggered events were likely.

The organization also reported an avalanche on the backside of the mountain on Friday, saying the snow conditions were heavy and wind-affected.

With files from the Canadian Press