Skier stuck in Suicide Gully walks out on snowshoes with help of North Shore Rescue
VANCOUVER -- Search and rescue teams responded to a call for help on the North Shore on Saturday night, which included a call from a skier stuck in a steep gully.
Peter Haigh of North Shore Rescue says the skier who was stuck in the gully – called Suicide Gully – on Mt. Seymour had lost a ski and walked downhill into the backcountry to try and get out.
“It’s quite easy to be drawn into this gully, it’s a common one for us (to rescue people from). People often think they can ski out the other side and in fact you come across some great cliffs … And then you’re at the bottom of a very steep gully and stuck,” he said.
The skier called for help around 5 p.m., but crews faced avalanche dangers and didn’t reach him until about 11 p.m. Rescuers had to take a round-about route to get to him due to the avalanche risk. Although Haigh said the risk was low, avalanche forecasters have warned about the unstable snowpack on the North Shore mountains several times this year.
“We’ve got to have an avalanche plan for all of the calls these days,” Haigh said.
Rescue crews gave the skier a pair of snowshoes and an avalanche beacon and walked him out of the gulley. The group made it out safely around 2 a.m.
On nearby Grouse Mountain, two people skiing or snowboarding also called for help because they thought they were lost. However, Haigh said, crews determined they were still actually within bounds and on a ski trail, so the resort’s ski patrol responded and helped them find their way.
“I can only think that maybe there was fog around, because they were in fact on a ski run, but there was not a lot of people around.”
North Shore Rescue has now had 34 calls out this year. Haigh says they’ve never seen a busier January and February. Last year they broke their own record for most calls in a year when they responded 150 calls for help.
“Know where you’re going, and it’s always best to be with somebody,” Haigh said. “This guy was incredibly lucky to have cell phone reception.”
Haigh also advised anyone who gets lost on a mountain to not attempt to just “head down” the mountain as that can lead them toward steep cliffs or gullies.