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Snowboarder rescued after being buried to waist in North Shore backcountry avalanche

Snowboarder was alone and out of bounds near Cypress Provincial Park when he was caught in an avalanche; rescuers say he has been injured

North Shore Rescue crews have rescued an injured snowboarder who was caught in a North Shore backcountry avalanche, bringing him to safety Tuesday night.

The snowboarder, who was riding alone in the backcountry near Cypress Provincial Park, was injured after being hit by an avalanche and buried up to his waist.

North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks said the man was snowboarding out of bounds on the backside of Mount Strachan when he was hit by an avalanche and buried up to his waist in snow.

The man managed to call his girlfriend in Burnaby, who called police.

Rescue teams were scrambled after 4:15 p.m.

Danks said the snowboarder was able to text them a photo of his location and they were able to spot him from the air. Ground rescue crews led by an avalanche forecaster made it to the man’s location around 7:30 p.m. and were able to bring the man out to the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

One of the rescuers who is also a doctor assessed the man’s condition as serious, involving hypothermia, a possible fractured pelvis and other possible injuries, said Danks.

But North Shore Rescue teams do not currently have approval to hoist rescue subjects by helicopter at night. Rescuers called the military SAR teams for help but their helicopters were engaged in another search, for a downed Cessna in the waters between Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington.

Additional crews were called in later in the evening, said Danks.

North Shore Rescue reported that the snowboarder had been brought out to Cypress Mountain Resort at around 10 p.m. and was being transported by ambulance to hospital.

Tuesday's rescue was complex, said Danks, involving avalanche experts, a doctor, emergency room nurse and paramedic and multiple rope rescue teams as well as Cypress ski patrol.

He added when in trouble in the backcountry, a subject’s first call should always be to 911.