VANCOUVER — Two skiers who were caught in an avalanche on a West Vancouver mountain were rescued Monday after a frigid overnight stay.
North Shore Search and Rescue said a helicopter flew to Cypress Mountain and crews rescued the men from an out-of-bounds area with a long line just after 9 a.m.
West Vancouver Police said the two Vancouver men were cold but otherwise OK, and were cleared by paramedics to leave the mountain.
The skiers were caught in an avalanche on Sunday afternoon and were forced to stay overnight after the search had to be called off due to a high avalanche risk in the area.
Search manager Doug Pope said the men reported by text message Sunday night that they were safe where they were, and volunteers gave them instructions on how to stay warm.
Temperatures dipped as low as -6 C and the skiers were likely unprepared for an overnight stay, Pope added.
"It would have been a very, very cold night for them,'' Pope said on Monday. "They were caught in an avalanche yesterday and managed to escape, but they would have been wet from that. Trudging in that gully all afternoon would have got them wet.
"I'm sure it was a miserable night.''
Pope said one of the men is 42 years old.
"It would have been a very, very cold night for them."
He said there were signs warning skiers not to go out of bounds in the area known as Tony Baker Gully, which is named after a teenager who died there.
The frightening situation should be a warning to other skiers, he said.
"This worked out OK but you can just see a scenario where it doesn't. They could have died there yesterday in that avalanche.''
Conditions remain extremely hazardous on the North Shore mountains, with Avalanche Canada warning that thick new slabs can be triggered by humans.
Police said in a statement that the 21-hour ordeal, caused by "a decision to cross under boundary ropes,'' highlights the importance of respecting ski boundaries.
"West Vancouver Police and North Shore Rescue urge all mountain users to learn the risks of mountain terrain on the North Shore and to respect ski area boundaries for their own safety.''