Lions Bay Search and Rescue would like to convey our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ryoji Fujita, who was found deceased after a 3 day multi agency SAR operation led by Lions Bay SAR with additional volunteers from North Shore Rescue, Squamish SAR, Whistler SAR and Coquitlam SAR, as well as CARDA avalanche dog handlers from Whistler and the RCMP.
Mr. Fujita was snowshoeing on the Howe Sound Crest trail between Mt Brunswick and Hat Mountain in the Lions Bay Area, and was caught up and buried by a Class 2 avalanche. He was well equipped and had significant mountain knowledge. He was travelling alone, and was in an area that experienced a somewhat unusual windslab formation—a compacted accumulation of snow that was deposited by an extreme wind event in the days before his hike—and was likely a contributing factor to the avalanche.
Assisting greatly with the recovery operation was the use of a helicopter mounted RECCO Detector, which was able to help pinpoint his location in the avalanche debris. As far as we are aware, this is the first time in Canada that this device has been used to locate a subject on a SAR operation of this type, and may help to improve the effectiveness of future SAR operations.