A snowboarder who got lost in the mountains north of Vancouver was rescued Sunday, the third time search crews have saved people who purposely ventured out of bounds in less than a week. The cases have sparked a debate over who should pay for the rescue mission when people ignore repeated warnings to stay on course.

West Vancouver police said they were notified that two snowboarders who had left the designated area on Cypress Mountain had been separated at around 3 p.m. on Saturday.

One snowboarder returned safely, but reported that his friend was missing, which triggered a search effort by North Shore Search and Rescue.

Using GPS and cell phones to determine the missing snowboarder’s location, crews eventually reached him below the snowline at around 10:15 p.m.

The rescue crew and the snowboarder hiked down the mountain and by 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the 30-year-old was safely back at the team’s command post. He did not suffer any injuries.

Search and rescue workers said this type of behaviour is unacceptable.

“We are really disappointed with this kind of activity, but we have to respond,” said Tim Jones of North Shore Search and Rescue.

This is the third time in recent days that search crews launched rescue missions, which can easily cost more than $50,000.

On Wednesday a family of skiers became trapped in a steep gully. They were rescued the next day.

On Dec. 16, a snowboarder from Ottawa was rescued around Cypress Mountain after going off course. It took rescue crews three days to locate him, as he wandered in the back trails in dangerously cold weather.

After he was rescued, Sebastian Boucher, 33, was given a bill for $10,000 to cover a portion of the pricey rescue mission.

This is the first season Cypress Mountain has started charging out-of-bounds boarders and skiers who require rescuing. The nearby course at Grouse Grind Mountain has been doing it for years.

Skiers and snowboarders at Cypress Mountain said the practice is fair.

“Just fine people if they break the rules, that’s kind of the way we go about doing things,” one man said.

“They need to be responsible for their own actions,” said another male snowboarder.

But one person said those in need of rescue might hesitate to call for help if they know there is a costly penalty.

“You will try to do it on your own if you have to pay, so there is that side as well,” said one woman.

Meanwhile the unidentified snowboarder who was rescued Sunday morning said he’s learned his lesson.

He said he’d “never do it again” and thanked the crew for the help.

With a report from CTV’s Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy