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Five Hikers Die After Cornice Collapse in B.C.

Five hikers fell 500 metres to their deaths after a cornice collapsed on Mount Harvey north of Vancouver. Search and rescue was alerted to the accident late Saturday afternoon.

A sixth hiker with the group had fallen behind and when he arrived at the summit, the other five had disappeared. Their tracks led up the snow to an obvious break. Helicopters spotted avalanche debris below the summit and the hikers were later recovered.

Mount Harvey
Mount Harvey

Karl Klassen, the warning service manager with Avalanche Canada said cornices are common at this time of year when there is high wind, warm temperatures and sticky snow. “You know just because it’s warm and green in the valley bottom doesn’t mean it’s over in the mountains,” he said. “We still have a pretty wintry snowpack in the mountains.”

Dozens of volunteers from Lions Bay to Chilliwack, 130 kilometres away, helped in the search on Sunday. Squamish RCMP Cpl. Sascha Banks said after, “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the hikers and the search and rescue teams in Lions Bay.”

Anyone who heads into the mountains in winter conditions should be aware of hazards such as cornices and avalanche paths. The five victims were from B.C.’s Lower Mainland and regularly hiked together. Their identities have not been released.

Location of Mount Harvey north of Vancouver.
Location of Mount Harvey north of Vancouver.