Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue members set up their own tents next to those already set up by the distressed hiking party, and remained with the group overnight until a helicopter could extricate the hikers in the morning. The hikers were found just past the northern tip of Mariwood Lake. Photo by Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue Facebook page.

Hikers, dogs rescued from Vancouver Island mountain amid winter storm

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue extricates distressed hikers in Strathcona Park

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue was called out to Strathcona Park in the midst of Friday’s winter storm, to rescue a group of stranded hikers.

The group, which included two women, a man, and two dogs, needed rescuing after one of the women became incapacitated, due to a knee injury.

“The initial call came ou at about 4 p.m. [Friday] afternoon,” said CVGSAR president Paul Berry. “Initially it was reported that one of their dogs was injured and they were unable to pack the dog out and as such, they were in distress.”

The dog had a laceration to its paw, caused by an ice shard, and was unable to walk.

Communication with the group was done through an inReach satellite communicator, via text.

“It took about two hours to establish that communication link, and at that point, we learned that one of the female members had a knee injury as well,” said Berry.

The rescue mission was hampered by approaching nightfall.

“Immediately we called for a helicopter but last light was coming too quickly and we knew we weren’t going to have enough time to be able to pluck them, so at that point it became a ground operation,” said Berry.

CVGSAR had a base camp set up at Mount Washington’s Raven Lodge by 8 p.m., at which time snowmobilers and skiers were dispatched.

The hikers were found on the northern tip of Mariwood Lake, near Kwai Lake.

“As the crow flies, it would have been about five kilometres from Raven Lodge, but in the conditions, and at night, it’s a little bit more of a circuitous route to make it to them,” said Berry. “It would have been close to 11 [p.m.] by the time we made first [physical] contact,” said Berry. “It was two teams of skiers who eventually did reach them.”

As the hikers were planning a three-night hike, they were equipped with sleeping bags and tents.

Once contact was made, it was determined a helicopter would be needed for the extrication process.

At that point, two CVGSAR members set up camp to remain with the hiking party overnight.

A helicopter was sent out “at first light” Saturday morning, to pick up the hikers and return them to Raven Lodge.

The injured hiker did not require an ambulance. The party was picked up at the base camp by family.

As much as the snowfall was an issue initially, the frigid temperatures were more so. Temperatures in the area dipped to as low as -20C overnight.

“Probably the biggest challenge was the heavy ice crust on the snow, which would have made it pretty hard going on snowshoes for them, certainly, and for the dogs,” said Berry. “But it certainly was one of the coldest nights that our crews have worked in, in the past couple of years.”

Berry said from his crew’s standpoint, the mission went as smoothly as could be expected. He added that although the hikers could have been better prepared for the cold temperatures, the communication device they had with them was integral to making the rescue possible.

“From our perspective, it went as planned,” said Berry. “Certainly it was beneficial that this party had an inReach satellite communication device. That allowed us to communicate with them via text, and for them to be able to send out the emergency call. Without it, they would have been on their own, without cell coverage, and the search might not have started until Sunday night or Monday, when they would have been reported missing.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

Dale Heriot was fired in July 2019 after his department was investigated for safety, bullying issues

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary seeks online feedback on transit, housing

Surveys on the RDKB’s website are asking for input to help plan for the future

School District 51 staff iron out plan for return to classrooms

Teachers are looking for a comprehensive health and safety plan to be in place before June 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read