British Columbia

Search for missing hikers near Lions Bay put off until morning

RCMP says some of the five hikers eventually made their way down the mountain on their own, but an unknown number remain missing.

Lions Bay Search and Rescue says group may have been hit by an avalanche or falling cornice

Members of Lions Bay Search and Rescue along with North Shore Rescue say five hikers are missing near Mt. Harvey in the Lions Bay area although teams won't be able to get into the area until Sunday, April 9, 2017. (Jacey Schindel/CBC)

Search and rescuers in Lions Bay B.C. have postponed a search for a group of missing hikers believed to either been hit by a falling cornice or caught up in an avalanche.

A cornice is an overhanging mass of hardened snow at the edge of a mountain precipice.

Around 4 p.m. PT Saturday, Lions Bay Search and Rescue was called to Mt. Harvey, which is north of Lions Bay for the missing hikers and were assisted by North Shore Rescue.

"We got a report that five hikers had vanished off the top of a mountain," said Brent Calkin with Lions Bay SAR.

However, Calkin says the area was too dangerous to send in rescue teams, due to avalanche risk. Darkness also hampered efforts.

'Grave as it gets'

He said helicopters flying around the area confirmed a large avalanche into the gully below the mountain.

"This is as grave as it gets," he said although he can't confirm if the hikers were caught up in either the avalanche of a cornice falling.

RCMP Cpl. Adam Koehle said it was unclear what injuries were sustained by members of the group.

He added that some of the climbers eventually made their way down the mountain on their own, but an unknown number remained missing.

'It's not my first choice of a place to go on a day like today, it's snowing buckets up there, there's been 60 centimetres of snow in the last two days,' says Brent Calkin with Lions Bay SAR about conditions where five hikers went missing on Saturday, April 8, 2017. (Jacey Schindel/CBC)

Calkin says there has been 60 centimetres of snow in the area over the past two days.

"I'm wondering whether spring is meaning people are thinking that it's not winter up on the mountains," he said.

"And right now up on the mountains it is still full-on winter and people have to be prepared for those conditions, it may as well be January up there."

Avalanche Canada says the slide risk for B.C. South Coast is considerable.

Now rescuers will wait until the morning to try and put teams into the area.

with files from Canadian Press