Two men, aged 42 and 38, were reported lost around 10 p.m Saturday
Search and rescue crews are combing an out-of-bounds area east of Cypress Mountain Resort for a skier and snowboarder who have been missing since Saturday in an area known as Australian Gully. Crews were also called out on Sunday afternoon after a hiker went missing on Mount Fromme east of the Grouse Mountain Resort.
North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks said the skier and snowboarder – aged 42 and 38 – were reported missing around 10 p.m. Saturday but rescuers were unable to begin a full-scale search until Sunday morning due an avalanche risk.
He said the last time the pair scanned through the sky chair was around 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. and crews did not receive a response when they pinged their phones.
“Conditions were not good last night,” said Danks. “But we got up at first light this morning.”
He said that at 7 a.m. Sunday they received a ping off the men’s phones that placed them on an eastern aspect of Mount Strachan, one of the mountains that make up the Cypress Mountain Resort.
There were around 25 rescuers searching the mountain on Sunday. A helicopter was also being used but it was grounded late in the morning due low cloud.
Search crews found tracks believed to be made by the missing men in Australian Gully, an out-of-bounds area on the east side of the mountain.
NSR search manager Peter Haigh said the area, which is in the watershed, is supposed to be off-limits to skiers and snowboarders.
“It’s a very, very risky avalanche area. Australian Gully hasn’t released all year, so there is quite a snow buildup on the sides,” said NSR search manager Peter Haigh. “People should not be there.”
Danks says the missing men are both frequent visitors to the mountain.
“I know one of them completed an avalanche safety course last week, but he left all his equipment at home,” he said. “We do know that they have gone out of bounds and they’re on the east side of the mountain. Whether they’ve been involved in an avalanche or not, we don’t know. We don’t have any information on their conditions.”
He says rescue crews are working with avalanche forecasters to see if they can at least get some voice contact with the men to coax them back out.
“They’re in avalanche terrain. The conditions are not supportive of putting our personnel into those areas right now,” Danks said.
On Sunday afternoon, North Shore Rescue posted on its Facebook page that increasing avalanche danger was limiting the search effort.
The avalanche forecast for the Sea to Sky region on Sunday was rated as “considerable,” meaning natural avalanches were possible and human-triggered avalanches ere likely.
With files from The Canadian Press