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.”

Just Posted

Wildfire sparks beside Highway 3 west of Keremeos

A wildfire on the side of Highway 3 just west of Keremeos… Continue reading

Rain in the forecast for much of the Southern Interior

Rain for much of the day in most areas clearing in the evening

Warmer fall weather could extend wildfire season: AccuWeather

Above seasonal temperatures are expected throughout September, October and November

Town experiments with protecting eroding brown bridge deck

Unusual wear and tear on the decking of Princeton’s brown bridge has… Continue reading

Word on the Street: Festivalgoers at the 27th annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

Grass fire breaks out on highway south of Vernon

Highway 97 traffic slowed as firefighters snuff grass fire

Access to Okanagan Rail Trail to be limited by erosion work

The work will be done throughout September but won’t begin before the Labour Day weekend

Suspicious fire rips through abandoned Okanagan home

A fire was reported on Francescutti Court in Kelowna just after 1 a.m. Friday morning

Summerland relaunches net metering program

Event open house will be held Aug. 27 from 3 to 6 p.m in Arena Banquet Room

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Jaws of Life used to rescue driver in North Okanagan crash

Single-vehicle MVI causes traffic delays on Highway 6

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Most Read