Why do so many hikers and skiers go missing in B.C.'s backcountry?
Published Thursday, December 29, 2016 10:44AM EST
For the outdoorsy type, the lure of roads unknown can be tough to resist, whether that means fresh powder, an offbeat cycling trail or a roped-off section of a popular hiking route.
But that lust for the unknown can land people in dangerous and potentially deadly circumstances, such as those facing two men who went missing in B.C.'s frigid backcountry this week.
Rescue efforts were suspended due to weather late Wednesday, in the search for Roy Lee, 43, and Chun Lam, 64. The two men have been missing since Christmas Day, when they set out on snowshoes from the Cypress Mountain Resort in West Vancouver.
The two missing hikers are only the latest in a growing number of missing and dead adventurers in the area, where individuals will often ignore signs and barriers to strike out on their own.
In most cases, hikers are to blame for deciding to deliberately leave the trail in search of more rugged terrain. At Cypress Mountain, for instance, the trails are clearly marked off with ropes and signs that read: "Grave injury, hypothermia and death occur beyond the ski area boundary! Do not follow anyone beyond the ropes."
Nevertheless, footprints and ski tracks are visible on the other side of many rope barriers. It's not illegal to leave the path, although some resorts will revoke members' passes if they are caught doing so.
A number of websites have popped up in B.C. to guide others through their exploration beyond those rope barriers. One site dedicated to Cypress Mountain includes a detailed map, along with an emphatic warning cautioning hikers not to miss a critical traverse.
"If you miss the traverse, you're f---ed. Don't do it."
Adam Mercer, a patrol manager at Whistler Blackcomb, says the vast majority of people "know exactly what they're doing" when they leave a path for a more rugged route.
"They've taken courses, they are prepared," he told CTV Vancouver on Wednesday.
But Joffrey Koeman of Cypress Mountain says the ropes are in place to keep customers safe. "When you go out of bounds it's cliffs, it's gullies, it's waterfalls, it's extreme terrain," he told said.
And while that might sound appealing to some, Mike Danks of North Shore Rescue says there's plenty of fun to be had by staying within the marked-off trails.
"The answer is not to go out of bounds," he said. "You need to get up early if you want to enjoy the powder."
With files from CTV Vancouver