NORTH Shore Rescue is warning outdoor adventurers to stay out of the backcountry on the weekend as the avalanche risk borders on extreme.
"The conditions right now are just heinous. The report I got back from Cypress patrol is these are the worst avalanches they've seen in 20 years," said Tim Jones, NSR team leader. "A big message out to everybody: This not a time for people going out. (Saturday) is going to be sunny. It's going to lull people into a false sense of security that it's OK. It's not."
Several days of heavy snow is building up on top of a slick ice layer base on the North Shore Mountains and the avalanche risk will remain high until the snow has had a chance to bond with the ice, Jones said.
The warning applies equally to skiers and snowshoers, said Jones.
NSR rescued two out-of-bounds skiers who bit off more than they could chew on Thursday afternoon. The two men in their 30s ducked under the boundary ropes under the Sky Chair at Cypress Mountain in search of fresh powder just after lunch on Thursday. One of the men quickly found himself stuck on a steep cliff ledge and called for help. NSR volunteers and Cypress patrol staff found the lost man and hoisted him out with the help of a harness by early evening.
Had the avalanche risk been as high Thursday as it is expected to be throughout the weekend, NSR would not have risked deploying their volunteers, said Jones.
"These guys would have died. They're lucky they didn't get themselves killed just from falling yesterday," he said.
Thursday's call was the first one in several weeks after almost daily calls in December and January but the quiet period has likely come to an end, Jones said.
"We're not holding out any hope it's going to be a quiet weekend," he said.