LIONS BAY, British Columbia – Hikers crossing an unstable ledge of snow in the mountains north of Vancouver, Canada fell 500 meters to their deaths, a search manager said on Sunday. Five bodies have been recovered.
Search and rescue crews were alerted to the accident late Saturday afternoon. Search manager Martin Colwell said four bodies were recovered at the bottom of Mount Harvey and a fifth was located several hours later.
A sixth hiker with the group had fallen behind and when he arrived at the summit, the other five had disappeared, Colwell said.
"The tracks were at the summit and there was an obvious sheer break in the snow over the north face," he said.
He said it appears the group stepped out on the ledge, or cornice, of unsupported snow and it collapsed under them.
"It's very dangerous, it's very deceptive," he said, of the snow ledge.
Colwell said the surviving hiker met another person walking up the trail who then alerted police.
Searchers in a helicopter spotted debris from the group left behind in the long track down the mountainside.
Colwell said the victims were from British Columbia's Lower Mainland and were part of a regular hiking group.
Using the trails up to the top Mount Harvey isn't dangerous, he said, but there some very steep cliffs near the summit and getting too close to those with the current winter conditions can be dangerous.
He said the coroner still needed to officially identify the victims and an announcement wasn't expected until at least Monday.