A 51-year-old man is in hospital with very serious injuries after he was rescued in Vancouver’s North Shore back country around 3 a.m. PT Sunday.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was in a small group of people snowshoeing north of Hollyburn Mountain when he fell over a nine-metre cliff.

The rescue operation was treacherous, said North Shore Search and Rescue spokesman Tim Jones.

"It was one of the most difficult calls we’ve had as a team to get to this guy," Jones said. "It put us in harm’s way, without a doubt."

Jones said snowshoeing is the new popular recreation for social and community groups, but in most cases, these groups are ill-prepared to head into the back country.

He said those enjoying the sport need to stay within boundaries and on well-marked trails.