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Snowboarder who jumped ski boundary found after costly rescue

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 33-year-old man who went missing after snowboarding past the ski-run boundary on Cypress Mountain has been found, but the recovery has come with a price tag of about $100,000, according to Tim Jones, team leader of the North Shore Rescue.

Sebastien Boucher jumped the ski boundary at the B.C. resort's Sky Chair lift on Sunday, prompting a team of about 100 people and four helicopters to scour the area for three days. He was airlifted to safety Tuesday evening at Disbrow Creek off the side of the mountain.

The rescue is a dramatic example of how many resources are required to save thrill seekers who get themselves into dangerous situations – and the aspiring adventurer is paying only 10 per cent.

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With the exception of a $10,000 bill coming from Cypress Mountain – the first fine the resort has ever imposed on a boundary-jumping snowboarder – no one will be charging Mr. Boucher for the price of rescue.

"Just do the math," said Mr. Jones, when describing the cost of the rescue. "It's a lot of money, it exponentially grows."

The recovery group consisted of aircraft operators, ground search-and-rescue teams and logistics staff from North Shore Search and Rescue, West Vancouver Police, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the RCMP, Talon Helicopters and Cypress Mountain.

Probably the heftiest price tags come from operating the rescue helicopters. Two Eurocopters were commandeered by Talon Helicopters, the primary aircraft provider to North Shore Search and Rescue. Both helicopters were in the air for a total of 12 hours, costing about $31,500 including fuel, operating costs and staff, said Kelsey Wheeler, the chief pilot of the company.

The RCMP contributed Air 2, a Eurocopter, to the search for about six hours, according to RCMP tactical flight supervisor Corporal Curtis Brassington.

While the police could not provide an invoice, the cost of operating the craft would total at $9,000 when using Mr. Wheeler's estimated rates.

On top of that, Mr. Boucher was lifted to safety by a Cormorant military helicopter with a staff of five.

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An operation of this magnitude typically occurs once every four years, said Mr. Jones, but North Shore Rescue typically gets a dozen calls regarding skiers going out of bounds each year.

Many of the incidents occur during this time of year, which coincides with avalanche season, making recoveries dangerous, he said.

North Shore Rescue will tally an official cost estimate within the next few days, Mr. Jones said.

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