Vancouver mountain tragedy: five hikers from Korean community killed by avalanche on popular trail

Hikers from two local Korean hiking clubs are swept away on snow-covered Mount Harvey

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 8:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 2:00pm

Five hikers have been killed by an avalanche on a popular hiking trail near Vancouver, devastating the city’s Korean community.

Rescuers said they had recovered the bodies of four of the hikers who went missing on Saturday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement on Sunday. Local media reported later that the body of the fifth hiker had been found.

RCMP received a distress call on Saturday from another hiker after a cornice collapsed on the peak of Mount Harvey, 33km north of Vancouver, in the Lions Bay area. The hiker spotted footprints leading to the summit and was concerned for the safety anyone who was in the area, RCMP said.

Martin Cowell, a search manager with Lions Bay Search and Rescue, said the hiker who made the call was a sixth member of the same party who had fallen behind the rest of the group. When he made it to the summit and could not find his companions he became alarmed.

A cornice is an overhanging mass of ice created by high winds.

CBC News, citing one rescue team member, said the group may have fallen as much as 500 meters when the cornice collapsed.

Local media including the Vancouver Sun reported that the five hikers included members of the Vancouver Korean Hiking Club and the MJM Hiking Club, whose members are also mainly ethnic Koreans.

But no information about the identities of those killed will be officially released until all the family members have been notified.

Vancouver’s North Shore mountains have been hit by an unseasonably late blast of snowy weather. More than 30cm of snow was dumped on the mountains over the weekend, on top of an exceptionally deep snowpack. The region has suffered one of its snowiest winter seasons on record.

Canada suffered one of its deadliest avalanches on New Year’s Day of 1999, when nine people were killed in Kangiqsualujjuaq, an Inuit village in Northern Quebec, according to the Calgary Herald. Additional reporting by Associated Press