Missing skier, snowboarder rescued by helicopter after spending night in backcountry
VANCOUVER -- North Shore Rescue says it has successfully rescued a skier and snowboarder who had been missing since Saturday afternoon in the backcountry near Cypress Mountain Resort.
Crews were able to reach the men by helicopter despite challenging weather conditions and fly them out on a long line.
The boarder and skier, aged 38 and 42, spent Saturday night on the mountain after going out of bounds on the eastern side of Strachan Mountain. The pair’s phones pinged in that area at 7 a.m. Sunday morning, but had been silent since.
Tracks believed to belong to them were found leading into Australian Gully Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon, rescuers said a helicopter team was able to spot the two men in Tony Baker Gully, which is near Australian Gully. The two men appeared to be upright and moving around, according to North Shore Rescue.
"Unfortunately, they are in a dangerous area for avalanches," said North Shore Rescue search manager Peter Haigh. "We're trying to assess how to get them. We might get them long-lined, but the cloud cover is very dense down there so we may not have enough height."
If a rescue by helicopter wasn't possible, the search team planned to drop a kit with food and supplies to get the men through another night on the mountain.
"We'll give them a radio so we can communicate," Haigh said. "Sleeping bags, food, we've got kits already made up for this sort of situation."
As of 6:30 p.m., North Shore Rescue told CTV News the rescue attempt was successful.
Rescuing the men on foot was out of the question because of avalanche risk, and low cloud cover made flying a helicopter to the area difficult for most of the day.
“It’s very difficult and quite frustrating to try and find them,” said Haigh. “The ping this morning meant they were both moving and both alive, but these gullies are really snow laden. In fact, Australian Gully has not released all year, so there’s a huge build up of snow there on the sides which could go. And so we have to be very concerned about that.”
An avalanche specialist was brought in to lead a North Shore Rescue search team closer to the area.
“That’s paramount for us that we keep our rescuers safe, so there are times we will not go and rescue people based on the danger level,” said Haigh. “If you want to go out of bounds, be doubly considerate because you may not be rescued.”