Photo of 'naive' hikers worries North Shore Rescue
Drone captures group of hikers standing on a huge snow cornice atop Mount Strachan
At first glance, the image is quintessentially West Coast: a group of hikers on top of snowy Mount Strachan, framed by blue sky and ocean.
But then you see the peril.
The mountaintop surface is actually a cornice, an overhang of hardened snow jutting out from solid ground.
And the hikers? They appear to be in a dangerous place, standing on a surface that could at any moment give way and tumble hundreds of metres straight down.
After a particularly deadly winter in the North Shore Mountains in which seven hikers perished, North Shore Rescue spokesperson Mike Danks said the photo — which was captured by a drone — serves as a prime example of how people get themselves into trouble.
Naive about the danger
"They've stayed back a little bit, but they're naive ... standing that close to a cornice," said Danks.
"It's a real problem, because that's what caused the death of the five people on Mount Harvey. And we believe a cornice fracture could be the cause of the two snowshoers who have gone missing as well."
Mount Strachan is a popular hiking destination right in the Cypress Ski Area.
Danks hopes the photo, which was posted to a community hiking website and reposted to the NSR Facebook page, will serve not only as a warning but as motivation for people to get educated.
"That's what we want to stress — there's mountain courses that you can take locally here on the North Shore," he said.
"Right now we're seeing warming temperatures, and it's just a matter of time until [the cornice] fails. Through the winter they've built up to a point where they can't hold their own weight, and that's when they'll fracture. And that in turn will cause a big avalanche below as well."