Stranded skiers rescued after frigid night near Cypress Bowl

Two skiers who spent a night stranded in a treacherous gully near B.C.'s Cypress Mountain Resort feel "really stupid" for skiing out of bounds.

2 men removed by helicopter from a treacherous gully say they intentionally skied out of bounds

Two men who spent the night stranded in a gully near Cypress Bowl had to be rescued by helicopter. (Don Marce/CBC)

Two skiers who spent a night stranded in a treacherous gully near B.C.'s Cypress Mountain Resort admit they were "really stupid" for going out of bounds.

One of the men, Brian Parsons, spoke to reporters after being cleared by paramedics. He said that he and an unidentified friend intentionally skied out of bounds Sunday, setting off a 22-hour ordeal.

"We ducked under the rope and my buddy lost his ski," said Parsons. "We tried to traverse ... and then we got hit by an avalanche and it threw us down into a deep gully.

Brian Parsons said he and a friend intentionally skied out of bounds before being swept into a gully by an avalanche. (Don Marce/CBC)

"It wasn't good," he said.

Parsons and his friend were pulled out of Tony Baker Gully, east of the Cypress ski area, Monday morning after North Shore Rescue had deemed it too dangerous to attempt to bring them out Sunday, due to an extremely high avalanche risk and heavy snow.

Snow cave and exercise

The two men survived by digging a snow cave, setting up their skis as a bench and exercising every second hour to stay warm. 

"I feel extremely fortunate," said Parsons. "The [rescue helicopter] passed us once ... and then the clouds socked in. But then, it cleared out and ... about 45 minutes later they came back and got me and my buddy out of there." 

Volunteers from North Shore Rescue prepare for the helicopter ride to save the stranded skiers. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

Happy to be alive

Mike Danks, of North Shore Rescue, called the men extremely lucky. 

"We really had our fingers crossed for these guys that they would survive the night and fortunately they did," said Danks  "I think they're just happy to be alive."

Danks said police were able to ping one of the men's cellphones to nail down their location. 

At 9 a.m. PT, the helicopter flew in from the northern Squamish side where there was less cloud and fog impairing visibility. The men were spotted in a small clearing dangerously positioned underneath a large pocket of snow that was threatening to fall.

"They had a light source flashing, and we saw they were both standing up, so we were grateful for that," he said. "We were able to access them quickly with a 200-foot line and we quickly reclothed them and slung them out."

The skiers survived the night by digging a snow cave and exercising every second hour to stay warm. (Don Marce/CBC)

West Vancouver police were first alerted about the missing skiers around 1:40 p.m. local time Sunday afternoon, when ski patrollers searched the Cypress Bowl boundaries looking for tracks to try to determine where the two had ventured.

Parsons said being rescued "was probably the best feeling I've had in a while."

"I'm going home to see my little six-month-old daughter and wife," he said.

With files from Farrah Merali