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Another off-limits snowboarder rescued on Cypress Mountain

A group of snowboarders and skiers gather at the top of Cypress Mountain to watch the sun go down on March 23, 2011.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A second snowboarder in a week, lost out of bounds on Cypress Mountain, and hikers who ignored closed signs to go up Grouse Grind were the focus of search efforts over the weekend.

Those two events are bound to heat up the argument in British Columbia about whether people who go into closed areas should be fined, or hit with rescue bills when they get into trouble.

But Tim Jones, a spokesman for North Shore Search and Rescue, said first responders are too busy to get caught up in that debate.

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"I've got to make sure these guys keep this out of their minds and focus on what their job is – which is rescuing people," said Mr. Jones on Sunday, a few hours after one of his crews had swept Grouse Grind, and another team had rescued a snowboarder found in Montizambert Creek, the same area where a snowboarder was found last week, after going out of bounds.

Mr. Jones said the latest snowboarder, whose name wasn't immediately available, was found late Saturday night, by a search crew that went from the bottom up, rather than coming from the top of the ski area down, as is usually done. He said a different approach was tried after searchers looked for three days before they found Sebastian Boucher in the same area last week.

"We thought it would be quicker coming from the bottom up," he said. "And it was quicker. Had we come top down, we'd probably still be out there looking for him. So we are changing our methods a bit and it seems to be paying off."

Mr. Jones said there was also a small avalanche on Grouse Grind, Sunday morning, which triggered a helicopter and ground search of the trail and a nearby gulley. He said there was no sign that anyone was hit by the slide, which put down a large tree across the trail, but there were concerns because an unknown number of hikers had been using the trail, despite signs warning it is closed.

Mr. Jones said he didn't know what to say about people who snowboard out of bounds, or who hike in closed areas after the Canadian Avalanche Centre had issued a warning bulletin for the weekend, rating the hazard as "considerable" for North Shore mountains..

"You can ask people to use common sense, but where do you go with it after that?" he said.

"There are people going up there and they are just not heeding the closure," said Ken Juvik, watershed manager for Metro Vancouver. "They take a risk with their own lives, but they also endanger the first responders who have to go look for them."

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More


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