Military helicopter rips off stranded hiker on North Shore Mountain

An arm sticking out of the mountain holding a cellphone light was all rescuers could spot.

As darkness fell on Crown Mountain on Tuesday evening, a man’s arm sticking out of a narrow rock cleft flashing a cellphone light was the only thing leading a North Shore Rescue helicopter team to a missing hiker in the Hanes Valley area.

The rescue team had previously searched the boulder field by helicopter as the light diminished and could find no sign of the missing man, said North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks.

But on a final pass with night vision goggles, they suddenly spotted someone’s upper arm sticking out from the top of a hallway – a narrow vertical seam in the mountain – waving a cellphone. “This person was basically in a slot,” Danks said.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough.

The rescue team had been alerted earlier in the afternoon, around 4:30 p.m., Danks said, when hikers atop Goat Mountain heard cries for help, coming from the direction of Crown Mountain. Around the same time, authorities were also alerted by a report from the hiker’s wife that he was late returning home from a day’s hike.

Once the hiker was located, rescuers faced another dilemma, Danks said.

To date, the rescue team has not been allowed to do rope-lift helicopters at night, Danks said, so they had to consider waiting until morning or considering a difficult rescue. by rope from the face of the mountain above, in the dark.

The situation shows why the team needs permission from the provincial government to perform overnight lifts, Danks said. “It will save a life.”

In this case, fortunately, the Comox Army Cormorant helicopter – authorized for hoisting at night – was on hand to help and managed to rip the hiker off the mountain around midnight.

Danks said the experienced hiker – a local man in his 50s – set out on his own on Tuesday to hike a particular route up Crown Mountain, but left the route and ended up in a difficult spot. where he was unable to continue. He was also in a location with no cell service, Danks said.

The call highlights the need to carry a portable satellite phone in the backcountry, Danks said. Luckily, as well as being overheard by other hikers, the man had left a detailed travel plan at home – narrowing the search area.

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