Missing snowboarder rescued near Cypress Mountain Resort as search crews warn of avalanche risk
North Shore Rescue crews were called to assist a snowboarder on Feb. 2, 2021. (North Shore Rescue/Facebook)
VANCOUVER -- Search and rescue crews had a busy start to the month with two calls on Tuesday, including for a stranded snowboarder who went out of bounds at Cypress Mountain Resort.
North Shore Rescue posted at about 10 p.m. saying teams were returning to the parking lot with a snowboarder who had become stranded. That was their second call of the day.
In another message posted Wednesday morning, the rescue organization said skiers and boarders should "never duck the ropes at a ski resort."
"Please stop ducking the ropes on Sky Chair on Cypress – this is our second rescue in less than two weeks in this area," the post said, indicating the previous person they rescued was badly injured and now has life-altering injuries.
"Obviously this snowboarder made some poor decisions and we are not saying this to shame the person. This is hopefully educational and hopefully … next time someone gets to the top of Sky Chair and thinks, 'hey, let's duck the ropes to get some powder' (with zero equipment or planning) they will think twice.'"
The rescue organization says this past January was its busiest one ever after teams responded to 15 calls.
"Now it's not unusual for us to get more calls than that – this last July we had 24 calls – but what is unusual is the time of year," a post from North Shore Rescue on Facebook says.
"To be getting a call every other day is a lot for the winter season. These calls were serious, involving life changing injuries, avalanches, and sadly a fatality."
Last month, a young woman from Toronto died after going for a hike on the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park.
Just before the new year, two snow bikers were found dead after an avalanche in the Pemberton backcountry.
Currently, the South Coast is under a special public avalanche warning. Avalanche Canada recently extended that warning, which now includes Vancouver Island, to Feb. 4.
"We continue to be concerned about a buried weak layer that is generally not found in this warmer climate," Avalanche Canada's warning says. "The recent snowfall has now put a greater load on that layer, which means it is deeper in the snowpack.
"When this weak layer is triggered, the resulting avalanche could be deadly."
North Shore Rescue is urging winter recreation enthusiasts to take avalanche and mountaineering courses.
"Winter is unforgiving. SAR teams around the province were sounding the alarm as we started entering the winter season, concerned that call volumes would remain high," North Shore Rescue's post says.
"In winter the consequences of something going wrong are more serious."