NIGHT-VISION GOGGLES on a 442 Squadron Buffalo search and rescue airplane show Mount Fascination on the evening of Aug. 1. The bright portions in the photo are burning flares that provided illumination during the night rescue.

SAR Techs dangle 150 feet to pluck hurt climber from narrow mountain shelf

Search and rescue crews rescue an injured climber from a steep slope on Fascination Mountain late in the evening on Aug. 1.

Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue crews rescued an injured climber from a steep slope on Fascination Mountain, northeast of the Mount Waddington Glacier, late on Aug. 1.

Earlier in the day, the climber had sustained injuries in a fall of almost 50 feet down the slope. The injured man and his climbing partner used an emergency beacon to signal help.  B.C. Ambulance received the call and requested support from Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria.

The crews of a Buffalo airplane and Cormorant helicopter took off from Canadian Forces Base Comox at approximately 9 p.m. and set out for northeast side of Mount Waddington where the climbers were located on a narrow ledge of the slope, at an altitude of approximately 9,300 feet.

The Cormorant crew relied on the three powerful engines in the helicopter to maintain a hover in the thin air as they lowered their two Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) onto the small outcrop.

“There were light winds, but it was still a difficult hover for us at that high altitude,” said Maj. Troy Maa, aircraft commander.  “There was nowhere to land, so we hoisted the SAR Techs and a rescue basket 150 feet onto the shelf.”

As the Cormorant crew conducted the hoist, the crew of the Buffalo stayed on station overhead to provide communications and illumination support with flares.

Once on the small ledge, the SAR Techs had to move carefully.

“There was almost no room for us on the ledge and the steep slope meant that there was a lot of turbulence as we guided the rescue basket onto the ledge with a line,” said MCpl Christian Morrissette, SAR Tech. “Once we had the basket down, we put the patient into it and got him hoisted up first. Then we followed with his climbing partner.”

Once everyone was on board the Cormorant, the aircraft flew to CFB Comox where the injured man was transferred to B.C. Ambulance in stable condition.

— 19 Wing Comox

 

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