Bodies of 4 missing hikers recovered, 1 still missing after falling from B.C. mountain

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Four bodies have been recovered near Lions Bay, north of Vancouver, by crews searching for five hikers missing since Saturday after a cornice collapsed on the peak of Mount Harvey, sending them tumbling down the mountain’s north face.

One missing hiker still remains unaccounted for.

Search crews say one of the hikers from the six-person group fell behind his partners. That hiker later spotted their tracks near the summit, but saw no sign of his group.

Instead, a large cornice — an overhanging mass of ice and snow built up by high winds — had apparently fallen from the mountain’s peak, taking the hikers with it.

“It appears like the group stepped on this overhang, which is not easy to see when you’re on top of it, and that it broke away, and they fell down the north face of Mount Harvey,” said Lions Bay Search and Rescue manager Martin Colwell.

Colwell said the group may have fallen as much as 500 metres.

Lions Bay search Sunday

Search and rescue teams from across the region searched the region Sunday for the missing hikers. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Steven Song, a local mountaineer and photographer familiar with the area, said Mount Harvey is a straightforward hike in the right conditions, but it can be easy to get in trouble in bad weather.

“The north face is about 500 metres or 600 metres [of] sheer cliff, almost vertical,” Song said. “Big granite face. It’s pretty impressive [if] you see it from below or from the other mountains nearby.”

“It’s a big shock that that many people all fell together. It’s very sad.”

snow cornice

A cornice, pictured above, is an overhanging feature often seen on mountain ridges, formed by the buildup of snow from strong winds. The five hikers are believed to have been on such a cornice at the summit of Mount Harvey when it collapsed. (claude05alleva/Pixabay)

Massive search effort

Dozens of search and rescue workers from organizations across the Lower Mainland spent Sunday morning scouring the mountain, including avalanche dogs and helicopter crews.

“This is not the outcome which we had hoped for,” said Cpl. Sascha Banks of Squamish RCMP in a release.

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the hikers and the search and rescue teams in Lions Bay who are still working tirelessly to find the fifth individual.”

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Bodies of 4 missing hikers recovered, 1 still missing after falling from B.C. mountain

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