At approximately 15:00 today, North Shore Rescue (NSR) SAR managers were alerted by West Vancouver Police of a snowboarder who had gotten himself lost and stranded in one of the steep, deadly drainages off of Hollyburn. Immediately, the team was paged and members began responding to the Capilano heli-pad. Talon helicopters AS355F2 Max Twin Star, piloted by Derek Riendeau, was dispatched immediately to the scene. With the lat/long of the subject, provided by 911 from his cell phone, an initial flight team departed to search the steep drainages of Nicky Creek.

Upon approaching the area, the flight team encountered a squall which created white out conditions and forced the crew to retreat and wait for the storm to clear. This took about 20 minutes. In the mean time, NSR members were being deployed to try and access the subject on the ground. Once the weather cleared, the flight team using navigation tools, entered the area and began to search. Almost immediately the flight crew spotted tracks, and began a methodical search of the surrounding waterfalls, cliff bands, and tall timber. Without spotting the subject, and with light fast becoming a commodity, the crew decided that it was imperative to put members on the ground with the Helicopter External Transport System.

Four HETS team members were inserted via helicopter longline to a gulley area that held the most promising tracks. Each member was inserted in a “screamer suit” (a diaper like harness that allows for wearing a climbing harness underneath) with personal mountain rescue equipment and a 24 hour backpack. After the second set of rescuers touched down, a voice was heard coming up the gulley. Following the tracks down towards an 80 foot waterfall, the subject was quickly located and assessed for injuries. Determining that he was uninjured, he was placed in a harness and evacuated with 2 of the HETS members to a waiting vehicle lower down the mountain.

With fading light, the last 2 HETS members were extracted and flown directly back to the Capilano heli-pad. Although this particular subject was fairly well prepared with a backpack, snowshoes, and proper equipment he got into some pretty ugly terrain and was very damp and cold by the time he was rescued. This is a classic example of an instance where it pays to leave a trip plan with a trusted person, take the ten essentials, and avoid descending into unfamiliar terrain. Excellent work by all team members involved!

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