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Snowboarder rescued after days on mountain
He’d been missing on the mountain — they weren’t sure which — for more than two days.
Sebastien Boucher, a 33-year-old snowboarder living in West Vancouver, was thought to have jumped the boundary of the Cypress Mountain ski area some time before Sunday afternoon, when his car was found abandoned in the resort parking lot.
From that time until Tuesday evening, more than 50 centimetres of new snow had fallen on Cypress — at times grounding military, police and civilian search helicopters — while in the backcountry, rescue parties reported trudging through snow up to their necks.
Not surprisingly, the stranded Boucher proved tough to track, with possible signs of life first appearing in the Montizambert Creek area of Cypress Mountain, then on the west side of Mount Strachan and finally, on Black Mountain.
By 2 p.m. Tuesday, when a break in the weather allowed a North Shore Rescue team to be dropped by helicopter into the area where ground searchers had discovered tracks on Black Mountain, it was impossible to know if the man was still alive.
“I was downtown and got the call about 1:50 p.m.,” NSR leader Tim Jones told The Outlook Wednesday. “So I literally ran down the street yelling and stopped the first cop I saw and said get me to the Helijet [helicopter pad]. And he did.”
Jones was flown across the inlet where he rendezvoused with a waiting NSR helicopter extraction team and headed for Black Mountain.
“We were looking for an insertion point, but it was way too steep so the four of us long-lined in with survival gear, hypothermia gear, medical gear — the kitchen sink — which is still buried there under two feet of snow.”
The team tracked west, on snowshoes in waist-deep snow for nearly four hours. “By then he was on his [snow]board and we could see he had been just zooming down the hill and we thought he might have got out on his own,” Jones said. But Boucher wasn’t out of the woods, yet. In fact he was stuck on a dangerous slope near Lions Bay.
“We heard yelling and made voice contact and he was right in a waterfall,” Jones said. “We had to make a 300-foot rappel down to him and left all our gear there — we won’t be getting that out.”
In fact, the large Armed Forces Cormorant rescue helicopter was still needed to pull the four-member team and a cold but alive Boucher out on a winch at 10 p.m., almost 60 hours since the man first entered the wilderness.
Boucher was immediately taken to hospital but appeared to be okay, Jones said.