Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue volunteers rescued a back-country skier trapped on a mountain ledge on Forbidden Plateau on the weekend.
Comox Valley RCMP alerted CVGSAR to the situation around 12:30 p.m. Saturday when Lawrence Floucault, a Courtenay resident in his early-20s, was stranded in waist-deep snow after traversing down a slope.
With assistance from Arrowsmith SAR and Campbell River’s Helicopter External Extraction Team, volunteers initiated a ‘top-down rope rescue.’
Rescuers could maintain cell phone contact with Floucault, who was equipped with a GPS unit.
Unable to access the area by helicopter due to weather conditions, two ground teams of four were air inserted within one kilometre of Floucault. A third team of six reached the area by snowmobile.
Travel conditions were difficult due to steep terrain, heavy winds, snowfall and darkness. By 9 p.m. CVGSAR requested 442 Squadron to locate the wet and shivering Floucault, who was unable to light his stove. The squadron, however, could not access the young man due to considerable cloud cover.
Ground teams reached Floucault shortly before 10 p.m. After assessing his condition, they decided to continue through the night to find a safe route.
They eventually reached the parking lot early Christmas morning at the old Forbidden Plateau lodge site. Ambulance attendants assessed Floucault and three SAR personnel for exhaustion and dehydration. Rescuers then delivered Floucault to his family.
“This is what we train for,” CVGSAR Search Manger Paul Berry said. “This is what we do. We put aside our lives to assist those in need, regardless of the weather, time of day or special occasions. What better Christmas gift could you give parents than the life of their child?”
Two members helicoptered back to the mountains to retrieve the rope gear and Floucault’s equipment that had been cached.