Searchers comb North Shore backcountry for missing hiker

25-year-old man went missing from Howe Sound Crest Trail Wednesday

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Search teams, including nine members of North Shore Rescue, are combing the North Shore backcountry this morning after a hiker went missing last night from the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

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Search teams from both Lions Bay and the North Shore are looking for a 25-year-old man who planned to hike the west Lion above Lions Bay then return to Cypress Mountain via the Howe Sound Crest Trail before nightfall Wednesday.

The man started the hike with a female friend on Wednesday afternoon, beginning at Lions Bay, but after the woman decided to turn around, he told her to drive around to the Cypress parking lot in West Vancouver and he would go on to the west Lion by himself, then take the trail and meet her three or four hours later.

Peter Haigh, search manager for North Shore Rescue at the Cypress command centre, said that plan wasn’t realistic. That hike would normally take between six and eight hours, he said.

When the man didn’t show up at Cypress Wednesday evening, his friend called police.

cypress search helicopter
A Talon helicopter comes in to land at the Cypress SAR command centre in West Vancouver Thursday morning. Searchers from Lions Bay and the North Shore have been combing the backcountry with the help of Talon helicopters after a 25-year-old hiker went missing from the Howe Sound Crest Trail Wednesday afternoon. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News.

Search teams headed out from both Cypress and Lions Bay at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Haigh. Lions Bay Search and Rescue sent a team up the Unnecessary Mountain Trail and down to Cypress overnight, while North Shore Rescue sent a team up to St. Mark’s, he said. Neither team saw or heard any sign of the hiker, he said, despite calling out along the length of the trail.

That’s concerning, he said, because “it’s serious terrain if you get off the trail.”

On the west side of the trail, there are many steep cliffs and drop offs while on the east, the terrain drops into the drainage for the Capilano watershed, an out-of-bounds area where few people venture.

Search teams also reported “as you get near the Lion the ice is very slick,” said Haigh, adding the missing hiker is “in runners with no equipment.”

Two helicopter teams from Talon Helicopters are now flying over drainages in the area looking for any sign of the missing man, said Haigh.

A police helicopter with special infrared scanning ability may also join the search today, he said.

“At the moment we have seen no indication as to where he might be.”

The man, who is from the Vancouver area, was dressed in leggings, shorts and a burgundy hoodie with a black jacket and was carrying a small daypack, said Haigh, but was not prepared to spend the night in the backcountry.

Temperatures on the trail were hovering around freezing overnight on Wednesday.

The search is continuing today.

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