442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from CFB Comox was tasked to assist Arrowsmith Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) in extracting an injured hiker off of Mount Arrowsmith on Jan. 17.
The call initially came into 9-1-1 Sunday afternoon, as three skiers injured at Mount Arrowsmith, AVRS search manager Dave Poulsen said. When rescuers reached the trio in a deep gully on Judge’s Route they discovered the three were hikers, not skiers.
Arrowsmith SAR quickly accessed a helicopter and spotted the hikers by air. Alberni Valley sent two ground teams—one to the trailhead of Judge’s Route to climb up, and one airlifted to the top of the route to climb down and intercept.
After two of the three hikers slid down a steep embankment, they found themselves in a difficult situation having to hold on until help could arrive. A CH-149 Cormorant crew was tasked to extract the patient and their two activity companions.
A CC-115 Buffalo from the squadron was also tasked to provide illumination during the extraction process by dropping flares to the hoist site. Due to the terrain, the search and rescue technicians (SAR techs) along with GSAR members were required to set up a rope system to retrieve the three climbers approximately 250 ft down from the hoisting location.
The three civilians and one SAR tech were first extracted and transported to Comox, with the Cormorant returning to the scene to extract the remaining 442 Search and Rescue Technician, and four Arrowsmith GSAR members.
Sgt. Chad Hildebrandt, who was the SAR tech who rappelled down to the patients, noted this was one of the most challenging rescues that he’s had in his career. He added it was very tough, very technical and challenging conditions.
Capt. Danny Schwager, aircraft commander for the Cormorant noted shortly after inserting the SAR techs, the clouds rolled in over their location.
“Fortunately the conditions eventually cleared allowing us to extract all patients and crew. The turbulent conditions generated by winds coming over the mountain tops made the hoisting quite challenging. It was a long night, particularly for our SAR techs working hard on the mountain. We’re thankful for the assistance from Arrowsmith GSAR and the Buffalo crew. We’re glad this turned out so well.”
– With files from the PQB News