Locals swept up in avalanche near Lions Bay
North Shore Rescue said it was responding with Lions Bay Search and Rescue to reports of a possible 'Code Alpha,' or avalanche. (Facebook)
Published Saturday, April 8, 2017 7:30PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 9, 2017 3:27AM PDT
Several Metro Vancouver families are spending a tense night waiting for news after five to six locals were hit by an avalanche on Mount Harvey, near Lions Bay at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Squamish RCMP Cpl. Adam Koehle told CTV News they're still working to determine how many people from the group were impacted.
"All our information is coming from one individual who was able to come down the mountain and call 911 [in Lions Bay]," he said.
The search was suspended shortly after nightfall because visibility is poor due to heavy snowfall and the avalanche risk for the area is a major safety concern for crews.
Brent Calkin, team leader for Lions Bay Search and Rescue says five of his volunteers are now camped on the edge of the avalanche zone in what they call containment mode.
"So that if someone can make their way out they'll have help," he said.
"They'll be there overnight."
North Shore Rescue, which was conducting helicopter training in Pemberton, was able to send a team to quickly help their Lions Bay counterparts.
Coquitlam and Squamish search teams will join Lions Bay and North Shore rescue at dawn to assess the conditions and determine whether air support from Talon Helicopters is possible. Calkin said it's likely only avalanche-certified volunteers will be allowed to join in the search.
Avalanche Canada has a "considerable" danger rating at the alpine level for the region, but also warns "Observations from the region have been extremely limited recently."
On Monday, a special notice was posted on the organization's website for the north face of the West Lion, which is just south of Mount Harvey. It reads: "Shooting cracks encountered on steep north facing terrain. Cornices are getting huge (some previously collapsed), and 'scrunds/ glide cracks are getting wide."
Mounties expect to provide more information on the status of the search at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.