Date: December 29th, 2010
Location: Montizambert Creek Drainage
Lat/Long: N 49° 24.534’ W 123° 12.618′
Elevation: (approx) 1000 meters
Time: 16:00 – 23:00
North Shore Rescue SAR Managers were paged by West Vancouver Police @ approximately 16:00 for two stranded snowboarders on Cypress Mountain. The snowboarders, having an iPhone, were able to give a rough lat/long to the dispatcher which was then passed on to us. With this information and sunset fast approaching, a SAR helicopter (AS355) provided by Talon Helicopters was scrambled. Two NSR members took off from our Cap Gate SAR Station shortly after to attempt an HFRS (long-line) rescue of the two subjects. Unfortunately, by the time the helicopter was on scene, there was not enough daylight left to carry out the aerial rescue safely. Scrubbing the air-op, SAR manager Tim Jones, was dropped off on Cypress Bowl by the helicopter where he started running ground operations from the new Cypress Bowl SAR Station.
Members arrived up the mountain shortly after with two rescue trucks, and staged at the SAR station. An initial field team was deployed to access the subjects. This field team (call-sign 90D) was comprised of team leader Mike Sample, a newer member of the team, Simon Buckett, as well as an experienced resource member (and ALS paramedic) Miles Randal. While the initial “hasty team” was being transported to the trail head by Cypress ski patrol members, new information arose from the subjects. They thought they heard voices coming from above them (which were not our members). Unable to rule out the possibility of more lost subjects, another field team was dispatched to sign cut, and back up team 90D. The second team (callsign 99), quickly ascertained both of the initial subjects tracks and were able to sign cut along the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Concurrently, a third team (callsign 82) was deployed on skis to assist with the sign cutting efforts. 99 and 82 met up just short of Strachan Meadows and were able to conclusively rule out further subjects.
By this time, team 90D had located the subjects, assessed their condition and assisted them out of the creek drainage they had got themselves stuck in. Shortly there after, team 90D was back on the Howe Sound Crest Trail and headed for the trail head were snowmobiles from Cypress Resorts were waiting to transport members and subjects back to command.
To quote NSR SAR Manager, Tim Jones:
These North Shore drainages are a grave yard. I don’t have the numbers right now, but a lot of people have lost their lives. You can take my word for it.
Although a happy ending here, a number of stars aligned for these snowboarders (eg. Low Avi Conditions, Cell Coverage, Weather, etc.), which otherwise could have led to disaster.
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