Over the last few weeks there have been a number of rescues. This past weekend a climber was rescued from Mt. Harvey by Lions Bay and North Shore SAR. He was evacuated via stretcher with severe head trauma. At this point he is alive but his condition is unknown.
Out-of-bounders trigger risky rescue
Father and son from PoCo put rescuers at risk from avalanche
The risky six-hour rescue has prompted North Shore Rescue and Grouse Mountain ski patrol to remind skiers and snowboarders that they aren’t only risking their own lives when they choose to disrespect trail boundaries.
“If your own personal safety is not a good enough motivation to stay in-bounds, consider the safety of the people who have to find you,” said Chris Dagenais, a spokesman for Grouse Mountain.
The 46-year-old father and his 14-year-old son, who live in Port Coquitlam, admitted during a debriefing with North Shore Rescue and the RCMP that they had deliberately climbed under the ropes at the top of the Olympic chairlift to enter the gully system between Thunderbird Ridge and Fromme Mountain. At 3:30 p.m., they found themselves in snow too deep to snowboard or walk through, and called 9-1-1.
Members of the mountain’s ski patrol team managed to find the general location of the two men, and stayed in voice contact with them until North Shore Rescue volunteers arrived with back-up recruited from Coquitlam and Lions Bay and avalanche dogs from the Canadian Avalanche Association.
Ski patrollers were stationed near the top of the gully to monitor snow conditions, while North Shore Rescue sent an advance “hasty” team up into the gully, with two support teams below in case of an avalanche.
“I cannot overemphasize that there was a very real danger to the hasty team,” Jones said. The snow in the gully reached their chests, and it was snowing heavily. “This was not a normal search operation.”
The hasty team traversed the approximately 150 metres uphill on snowshoes to reach the trapped men shortly before 9 p.m.
As the rescue team was working its way out of the gully with the two snowboarders, who were cold but uninjured, Jones received word from the ski patrol above that they had seen several small avalanches.
The team managed to reach the rescue base safely, but “it was a very tense 45 minutes for all of us,” Jones said.
Avalanches aren’t the only danger for people who go off the marked trails, Dagenais said. The boundaries also keep skiers safe from steep waterfalls, cliffs, fallen trees, rocks, and dangerous ice.
“Out of bounds means out of bounds,” Dagenais said. “It gets pretty frustrating when, year after year, you see people knowingly transgressing these boundaries.”
Jones said that he hates making the choice to gamble the lives of his volunteers, many of whom are young men with families, to rescue people who have knowingly entered backcountry areas without the proper equipment and training.
“This was a completely unnecessary call,” Jones said. “There has to be a level of respect for what the volunteer search and rescue people are asked to do.”
The ski hill will give the snowboarders a few days to recuperate before revoking their season’s passes.