Comox Valley Search and Rescue
(Comox Valley Search and Rescue/Facebook)

A trio of experienced mountaineers were rescued by helicopter hoist after suffering an accident on King’s Peak near Campbell River on Monday.

Sebastien Marcaux, Search Manager with the volunteer Comox Valley Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) organization, says that the group was descending down the mountain’s glacier when an equipment malfunction caused them to slip.

One of the climbers was able to stop their descent but all three had suffered non-life-threatening injuries, with two of them left unable to move.

The mountaineers used a satellite phone to call for help and Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR) responded.

CRSAR teams determined that the operation would require the use of a helicopter hoist and radioed Vancouver Island’s search and rescue network for assistance.

CVGSAR responded, and a helicopter was supplied by Ascent Helicopter.

“They provided the hoist technician, a key position that is in contact with the pilot,” said Marcaux. “Volunteer members are trained to hook up on the hoist and manage patients on the ground.”

Because of the logistical challenges of the operation, the mountaineers were forced to spend the night on the glacier while awaiting rescue.

Marcaux says the location of the injured climbers proved difficult and the helicopter hoist was forced to airlift one of them at a time, transporting them to a secondary site for extraction and treatment.

The helicopter team was back on the ground by about 2:30 p.m. on October 6, and the entire operation spanned two days.

Marcaux says that despite the difficulty of organizing and executing a rescue operation between at least three groups, he is proud of the work the search and rescue teams do.

“We get frustrating calls, we get calls that are very demanding, physically and mentally,” said Marcaux.

“We’re unpaid professionals, taking time out of our jobs to respond to those calls. When we can measure that we helped someone, it’s extremely rewarding.”

He added that the mountaineers were well-trained and well-equipped, which helped them survive a dangerous situation.

Marcaux says that anyone interested in extreme outdoor activities should visit adventuresmart.ca for information on proper training, equipment, and preparedness.