Man rescued from 2 metres of snow after avalanche in Cypress Provincial Park

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Man rescued from 2 metres of snow after avalanche in Cypress Provincial Park

North Shore Rescue says a man is in hospital with serious injuries after he was caught by an avalanche and rescued off Hollyburn Mountain at Cypress Provincial Park Saturday afternoon. 

"He is extremely lucky to be alive," said NSR team leader Mike Danks. "When they did uncover him, he was breathing at that time so that's a very positive thing.

"You know, it just reinforces why you need to have avalanche safety equipment when you're going into the backcountry, and you need to really be aware of the current conditions," said Danks.

Rescuers say the man was buried by up to six feet of snow for around five minutes in the backcountry of the park after an avalanche swept down through trees and off a cliff, covering a distance of more than 120 metres, according to an NSR post on Facebook.

NSR says the victim was skiing with a friend in Tony Baker Gully at the 800-metre level on the south branch of Strachan Creek.

The victim's partner was partially buried, but was able to free himself and help dig out the victim. NSR says both men had transmitters and the victim's friend had a probe and shovel to begin digging him out enough so that he could breathe.

Another five skiers nearby also assisted in the rescue, and called NSR, which then flew volunteers to the area in a helicopter around 1 p.m. PT.

They then attached the victim to a long-line under the helicopter and flew him to one of their stations at Capilano Gate. A long-line is a cable hung from the bottom of a helicopter, which rescuers and the victim attach to with a clip.

Prepared skiers

From there he was flown by helicopter to a park in North Vancouver where he was transferred to paramedics and taken to Lions Gate Hospital.

NSR says the victim received serious internal injuries and has hypothermia, but was conscious when he was rescued.

"These two skiers [were] prepared with proper avalanche gear. If they did not have the correct gear and training, the skier buried in the avalanche would have died," said NSR's post.

"You know, it just reinforces why you need to have avalanche safety equipment when you're going into the backcountry, and you need to really be aware of the current conditions," added Danks.

In 2006 a snowboarder was found dead in the same gully that rescuers at the time described as a "hell hole" that had trapped many skiers and snowboarders over the years.

Callaghan Valley avalanche death

Meanwhile also on Saturday, a 32-year-old man died after being caught in an avalanche in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler B.C.

Avalanche Canada says on its website that the avalanche risk on the South Coast is currently considerable.

"Two incidents Saturday remind us that a potentially dangerous storm/wind slab remains sensitive to human triggering," it said in a post.

"Caution and restraint is urged at this time."