Two snowboarders were found cold and contrite in a ravine above Howe Sound Friday morning after spending a bone-chilling night in a tree well.
The man and woman, in their 20s, were riding on the resort’s Top Gun run in the late afternoon Thursday when they ducked under a boundary rope, planning to rejoin the groomed area farther downhill. The backcountry terrain quickly took them away from the run, however, forcing them hundreds of metres down the mountainside, across the Howe Sound Crest Trail and into the Montizambert Creek ravine.
The slope soon got too steep for them to continue, forcing them to a stop, according to rescuers. With the light failing, the pair hunkered down for a frigid night under a tree.
The ski area closed and the chairlifts stopped. No one knew the boarders were missing until close to midnight, when Cypress staff came across an abandoned vehicle in the resort’s parking lot and reported it to police. The call was passed on to North Shore Rescue, who launched a search at first light.
At about 8 a.m., a search team in a Talon helicopter spotted the missing boarders making their way slowly up the snowy ravine. A Cypress ski patrol went to meet them, and hiked the pair to safety. The woman had sprained a thumb, but was otherwise unhurt, according to rescuers.
“They totally realized what they’d gotten themselves into,” said rescue team leader Tim Jones. “They were very remorseful over the whole episode.”
Jones said the boarders were lucky they had stopped before the area where Montizambert plunges over waterfalls, a treacherous spot where they could easily have fallen to their deaths.
The incident was the second rescue from a North Shore gully in two days. On Wednesday night, two skiers were pulled from the Mosquito Creek drainage on Grouse Mountain after they got lost while trying to hike from the ski area to the base of the hill. Bother were found in good condition.
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