North Shore Rescue members have saved an out-of-bounds snowboarder who came within meters of meeting his maker Monday afternoon.
The Vancouver man was hitting the slopes while his daughter was in ski-school, but, new to the mountain, he got off trail and wound up in a “quite nasty” gully due west of the Grouse Mountain peak around 12:30 p.m., said Doug Pope, North Shore Rescue spokesman.
The man in his 40s was preciously close to a snow bridge over Drifter Creek when he realized he was in over his head.
“He called Grouse Mountain and told them that he was in a difficult spot, and boy was he ever in a difficult spot,” Pope said. “It turns to almost vertical just below where he was … He would have fallen through into the waterfall.”
Avalanche risk conditions were improving from their high-danger rating on the weekend but Pope said rescuers determined the fastest and safest way to get him out was via helicopter longline.
“The ceiling was just lifting enough that they were able to get that helicopter in there,” he said.
They brought the man safely back to the Capilano Gate rescue station. His snowboard stayed in the gully.
If you wind up in trouble in the backcountry, your first and only call should be to 911, Pope stressed. Even in areas with poor coverage, 911 calls are more likely to get through and it ensures rescuers can get on the job without delay.
The man’s phone had just seven per cent battery life remaining when he connected with rescuers and it was dead by the time they rigged him into the longline, Pope added.
Although out-of-bounds rescues only make up about seven per cent of North Shore Rescue’s calls annually, it has been a particularly slow winter for them, something Pope attributed to bad weather.
But with the latest dump of snow, Pope predicted more people would be tempted making it more important than ever that skiers and snowboarders stay in bounds.