We thought that Sunday would be a quiet day of spring skiing on the abandoned slopes of the ski area in Cypress Bowl.
SAR helicopters above moguls run
Instead, as we skinned up Mt. Strachan, over on Black Mountain, North Shore Rescue was holding its third annual avalanche rescue exercises.
It was a major event. The scenario was that 12 snowshoers had been caught in a class 2 avalanche (big) and at least 6 were buried and did not have the benefit of location beacons (radio transceivers to facilitate finding someone under the snow).
About 50 search and rescue experts and volunteers participated. The miltary were there with their Cormorant helicopter, and North Shore Rescue were using their two Talon Helicopters. These machines were almost constantly in the air, often circling over our heads with stretchers and rescuers dangling from long lines.
The display of expertise and equipment was impressive. And as someone who loves to head into the backcountry, it is comforting to know that these people are well trained, dedicated, and excellently equipped to manage a rescue. (If someone who is new to our local wilderness mountains is reading this, let me add that I see a rescue as a backup to my mountain travel and avalanche training — I hope never to call on their services.)
The Canadian Military Cormorant helicopter
with the moguls run — where the avalanche exercises took place — behind
Dog trained for avalanche rescue
One of several North Shore Rescue vehicles
For more information, here is the blog for North Shore Rescue.
Global TV coverage of Snowman Rescue Drill