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Lost snowboarder found hypothermic, dehydrated in 'spicy' avalanche terrain

North Shore Rescue volunteers locate a lost snowboarder who had no avalanche safety equipment and a dead cellphone.

A lost snowboarder is lucky to have survived after search and rescue members found him near Cypress Mountain Resort.

At 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, North Shore Rescue (NSR) was activated for the man, believed to be in his mid-30s from Cowichan Valley.

Wintry weather made the search challenging. A special avalanche warning is in place for most of B.C. as human-triggered avalanches are expected.

"Travel and avalanche conditions were very challenging due to the recent heavy snowfall,” says an NSR member.

Search members were able to locate the man below the Howe Sound Crest Trail, which begins at Cypress Mountain Resort and travels north along Mount Strachan’s western slope.

North Shore Rescue search manager Dave Barnett says the rescue was tough and more difficult than they were expecting. The man got lost and ended up in a very steep and dangerous drainage area south of the trail. They also were not able to ping his phone to find his location.

“What made it difficult was the amount of snow. It was snowing a lot and the conditions, the visibility, were terrible. And our team had to be very careful about the route they went in because there was an elevated avalanche risk,” says Barnett.

It took members more than 90 minutes to get to the man. Members could only see about 20 metres ahead with the visibility and were waist-deep in show. There were also signs of avalanche activity near the area they were searching.

“Our people are very experienced in the avalanche terrain,” he says. “It's much better to spend the time and take the safe route and that's what they did."

The man was found hypothermic, dehydrated and wet. He had no avalanche safety equipment and his cellphone had died.

North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks tells Glacier Media the man was very lucky that crews were able to access the location he was in.

“Very spicy avalanche conditions last night,” says Danks.

The man was evacuated to safety by midnight.

Barnett hopes people stay inbounds, especially right now. If people are going into the backcountry, they must have the appropriate training and avalanche equipment, he says.

“Stay out of areas where there is an elevated avalanche risk. Stick to lower elevations, less mountainous terrain, and safer areas,” he says.

People should also travel with someone and always have extra batteries and a GPS.

Fatal avalanche incident near Revelstoke 

A special avalanche warning is in place for most of B.C. as human-triggered avalanches are expected.

Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and the Province of B.C. issued a joint statement on Feb. 29 after a recent storm brought a significant amount of snow to Western Canada. The warning has been extended to March 7.

"Over the weekend, there were numerous natural, accidental, and remote triggered avalanches reported, sadly including a fatal accident near Revelstoke," says a forecaster.

A group of snow bikers were riding on Sale Mountain, north of Revelstoke, when one person was caught in an avalanche and died on Sunday. 

Correction: The lost person was originally reported to be a skier.