Monday, October 27, 2008

Pair Rescued from Cliff

Pair Rescued from Cliff
Oct. 27, 2008

19 WING COMOX – A 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron CH-149 Cormorant helicopter rescued two Victoria climbers from Mt. Arrowsmith early this morning. The pair used their cell phone to call for help which led to the Cormorant being tasked to the mission by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.

“It appeared like the two climbers got lost on their descent,” said Sgt. Wade Simpson, the search and rescue (SAR) team leader from the mission. “They were well prepared for the hike, but reached a point where they didn’t want to continue in the darkness. They tied themselves in on the rock wall and called for assistance.”

Port Alberni Ground SAR was on scene when the Cormorant arrived, initiating a rescue from the base of the mountain. The pair was located 1750 meters up the mountain on the side of a cliff, making ground rescue challenging in the dark. The Cormorant easily found the two climbers, but it was the crew’s continuous training at climbing cliffs such as the Devil’s Ladder at the Comox Lake that prepared them for the challenging hoist.

“Practicing at the Devil’s Ladder came into play big time on this one,” said Sgt. Simpson. “The pair was located on a small ledge of a sheer cliff wall, and the techniques required for the crew to perform hoists in this situation were well practiced aiding in the crew’s comfort level. We were really happy to be able to do that mission so that the Ground SAR didn’t have to climb in the night. Mountain rescue climbs at night are that much more difficult, all you have is your headlamp on, it’s harder to find holds and you can’t find route selection.”

After the climbers were extracted from the cliff wall, they were flown to a pad near Port Alberni where they were transferred to Port Alberni Ground SAR. The pair’s current condition is unknown.

Cormorant Crew: Capt. Mulholland, Aircraft Commander; Maj. von Kruse, First Officer; Cpl. Legendre, Flight Engineer; Sgt. Simpson and Sgt. Seguin, SAR Techs.