A snowshoer was hospitalized with serious injuries Sunday after he fell 30 metres into a gully near Hollyburn Mountain.
The man was walking Cypress Bowl’s Mount Strachan route with three companions early Saturday afternoon when the group reportedly became disoriented by poor weather and a failing GPS unit. They were traversing a steep slope above the gully at about 1:30 p.m. when the man apparently lost his footing and fell down the incline, tumbling over three 10-metre cliffs in a row before coming to rest in the snow, according to rescuers. Unable to get cell reception, a friend had to leave the area to call for help, delaying the launch of the rescue effort until about 3:30 p.m.
When a volunteer team reached the area and rappelled down the cliffs, they found the man had moved from the spot where he fell, complicating the problem.
“He had staggered about 800 feet. . . . We were following a trail of blood. We found an abandoned snowshoe, a pair of goggles; he was an army in retreat,” said North Shore Rescue team leader Tim Jones. “We found him sitting in this gully, soaking wet.”
The victim had suffered serious head injuries in the mishap and was showing signs of hypothermia, said Jones. He was also in severe pain.
They treated some of the man’s injuries, but with darkness and bad weather preventing a helicopter rescue, he had to be hauled out by hand. All the available members of NSR were called in to help in the effort, as well as Lions Bay Search and Rescue, Cypress Mountain staff, West Vancouver police and others.
It took close to six hours to drag the man’s stretcher up a steep and snowy 600-metre slope to a waiting snowmobile. He was finally transported to hospital at about 3 a.m.
“It was a long, long, long night,” said Jones.
The result could have been worse, however, he noted.
“We’ve done two fatalities directly below where he fell.”