Fort St John Hiker Rescued From Slope Near Powder King
Prince George, B.C. – An injured female member of a hiking party from Fort St John has been successfully rescued from a very precarious situation on an ice slope in the vicinity of Powder King Mountain.
Prince George Search and Rescue spokesman Dale Bull says the long ordeal which began mid-afternoon Friday came to a successful conclusion this morning following the efforts of several SAR teams plus the military. He says Prince George Search and Rescue was called shortly after 6 pm Friday. “We had a rescue situation. A woman in her 20s took a fall and had a badly broken leg.”
“Our first two teams went in by helicopter and then were joined by other teams on the ground. Teams from Prince George, Mackenzie, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St John and Vanderhoof responded.”
Bull says the location of the rescue was a peak to the west of Powder King. “From the site we could see Powder King on the other side of the valley. We don’t have a name for the peak itself. I was told we were in a provincial park but I would have to look at a map to know what provincial park it is.” He adds the SAR personnel could see the ski runs clearly from the rescue site.
Bull says “the area in which she was is very hard to access. It was a very steep, muddy trail up and, for the team from Prince George, we flew in by helicopter to the top (of the peak). The girl was in a very precarious situation and, had we not been able to get her out by helicopter, it would have been a very, very labour-intensive evac on the ground.”
“The young lady was on the side of a snow slope, wedged between the snow and a rock. The slope was very steep and even from where she was we had to lower her over 800 feet down the slope by rope to get to a place where the Search and Rescue technicians from the military were able to access her at approximately 5 o’clock this morning and medi-vac her out.”
The military team came from 442 Wing out of Comox, which is the Canadian Airforce Search and Rescue Squadron. Bull says “they flew up in a Cormorant helicopter early this morning to assist with the evacuation.”
Bull was very directly involved in rescuing the woman and says “myself and a (search) member from Mackenzie reached the subjects seconds apart. It was by helicopter we landed above her and we accessed the site by going down to her. We probably had to drop 800 to 1,000 feet down the same slope. Very, very steep, some places were near-vertical rock faces and snow slopes.”
Bull says “the party of four had hiked up earlier in the day and then, while going down, she was trying to get down the slope when she slipped down the snow for quite some time before falling into the small area between the snow and the rock face.” That’s where she broke her leg. Bull says she also had a few abrasions and bruises but no other significant injuries. “The serious injury was with her left leg.”
He says rescuers first made contact with the woman around 7:30 Friday night “and then from there we packaged her up to a stretcher and moved her down the hill to where the search and rescue technicians were able to access us and do the evacuation at about 5 this morning.”
Bull says the woman’s condition had deteriorated overnight due to the weather in the area. “She was cold and wet. They had been stuck on the side of the snow slope for several hours by the time we got there and had been rained on several times. One member of her party went for help while the other two stayed with her and tried to stabilize her and make her comfortable.”
“When we got there she was coherent and talking to us and appeared to be in pretty good shape, other than her leg, but due to the cold and probably the stress of her injuries her condition deteriorated a little through the night and warranted the call to Comox for the assist, just in the worry of how long it was going to take us to get her down and the amount of stress being put on her.”
The three other members of the hiking party from Fort St John were all fine, other than “a little exposure as they had also been sitting out in the rain on the exposed slope, so a little cold but nothing else other than that.”
The injured woman was flown to University Hospital of Northern BC by Search and Rescue technicians for treatment of her broken leg.
Bull says there were in excess of 30 Search and Rescue members involved in the operation and says “that number would have had to of climbed had we had to evacuate her by hand.”