A trio of hikers stuck on a North Island mountainside got a chopper ride to safety this weekend.
Campbell River Search and Rescue successfully rescued three stranded hikers who were attempting to climb Mt. Schoen, in Schoen Lake Provincial Park east of Woss Sunday, when they got stuck.
Campbell River SAR received the call-out shortly after 8 a.m. and, knowing the terrain was steep and challenging, flew by helicopter to attend.
The three young male hikers were uninjured, but were not able to continue their route, or to safely descend the scree field they had climbed. Scree is a form of loose rock that can slide down a slope.
“They were uninjured, but ran into some challenging terrain, knew their limits, and stayed safe,” said a post on Campbell River Volunteer Search and Rescue Society’s Facebook page.
The group of hikers was able to get a cell phone call out to a family member who let the rescue team know about their location.
The team opted to use a hoist, said Grant Cromer a Campbell River SAR member who was on the call.
“We deployed two technicians down on the hoist line,” he said. They were lowered one-by-one down 106 feet of the 250-foot line.
The hikers were flown off the mountain.
Cromer said that helicopter line rescues are becoming more common. Campbell River SAR has responded to four calls this year that required the skill: two in July and two so far this month.
The Campbell River Search and Rescue team is the only Vancouver Island SAR group that has the training and equipment to do Class D fixed line helicopter operations. They received training back in May alongside Comox Valley SAR members to add hoist rescues to their toolbox. The crews have partnered with Ascent Helicopters out of Parksville.
While fixed line operations– where technicians are flown in on a fixed line, rigging and de-rigging at a different location– have been around for awhile, hoist operations are relatively new. In a hoist operation, a technician is lowered on a rope from the helicopter and brought back up. Both are considered to be Class D.
Cromer said one technique isn’t necessarily better than the other, rather it’s “what tool works best at the time.”
Campbell River Search and Rescue is reminding people to research their routes and to leave a trip plan with a responsible person before heading into the backcountry. For more information on how to create a trip plan, visit adventuresmart.ca.