A French hiker is lucky to be alive after falling more than 45 metres down a popular North Shore mountain.

The climber was with two friends hiking the west peak of the Lions around 10:00 a.m. Wednesday when he tumbled from the summit.

Tim Jones with North Shore Search and Rescue managed the mission, and says it was a significant drop.

"It's a tumbling fall with vertical drops of up to 20 feet so that's what we call significant trauma," Jones said.

The victim's companions were unable to climb down to meet him and waited at the peak for help.

Lions Bay Rescue, aided by North Shore Search and Rescue members and a helicopter tactical team, reached the man several hours later.

In Pictures: North Shore mountain rescue

A physician and paramedic were dropped to the man's side, and quickly administered morphine to the injured man, who suffered a badly fractured leg and multiple lacerations on his face and body during the accident.  

The victim, believed to be a tourist from France, was airlifted on a 150 foot line to a hovering helicopter and flown to Lions Bay Elementary School. From there, he was airlifted by medivac to Vancouver General Hospital, where he remains. His companion is uninjured.

Jones told ctvbc.ca the constantly changing weather on the steep mountain made it a risky mission.

"It's a complicated process," he said. "It's not simply going in and taking someone out. You need a plan B and that's exactly what we did. He's extremely lucky."

Jones suspects the victim, a man in his 30s, may have sustained internal injuries in the fall.

"He will be x-rayed from head to toe to make sure he doesn't have any bleeding, or a ruptured spleen, which is entirely possible."

In total, more than 40 people aided the rescue.

The Lions is a 1654 metre (1,499 foot) peak popular with Vancouver climbers and hikers. The two peaks, a pair of twin granite domes, can be seen from much of Metro Vancouver, and can be reached through trails in the nearby community of Lions Bay.

Most hikers ascending the west and east peaks of The Lions are advised to carry rock climbing equipment and have experience with tough climbs.