An Alberni Valley hiker remains in stable condition at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital after sustaining injuries a six-metre fall on Mount Arrowsmith on Saturday.
Richard Erickson was doing a day hike on the mountain with a female partner and two dogs when he fell in an area known as the snow gully to the Ice Box.
Port Alberni RCMP spokeswoman Const. Shelly Schedewitz said the detachment received a call about an injured at hiker at 4:52 p.m. on Saturday. Members immediately called the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad and Emergency Management B.C. Alberni Valley Rescue Squad president Dave Poulsen said they received information that the hiker had sustained moderate-toserious injuries.
"A search team from Port Alberni was dispatched," he said. "We accessed the hiker quickly, at approximately 7:30 p.m."
Poulsen said the terrain was horrendous and proved to be incredibly challenging to squad members, with steep slopes and loose rock. He added the hiker was in obvious pain, with a suspected lower left fracture, broken collarbone and injured ribs.
Squad members were concerned the man would go into shock, but Poulsen said he was a tough individual. For the remainder of Saturday night, the rescue squad tried to get the hiker off the mountain by means of a stretcher and a Cormorant helicopter from the Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Squadron in Comox. But weather, which turned from sun to rain and wind, prevented the helicopter rescue efforts.
Squad members ended up camping with the hiker overnight, while other members hiked down the mountain with the woman and the two dogs. They made it off the mountain at approximately 4 a.m. on Sunday.
At approximately 5 a.m., squad members realized the majority of the squad team was depleted.
"They were spent from camping overnight on the mountain," Poulsen said. "We activated mutual aid and called other Vancouver Island search and rescue teams."
At 8:30 a.m., Poulsen said the squad realized a massive amount of manpower would be needed to get the hiker down the mountain. In total, 82 volunteers participated in the rescue mission. Alberni Valley volunteer also firefighters participated in the rescue mission, as did local and visiting hikers.
In the end, rescue volunteers started bringing the injured hiker down the mountain on a stretcher at approximately 11 a.m. on Sunday. They did not reach the foot of the mountain before 4 a.m. on Monday.
"We stopped several times on the way down," Poulsen said.
Volunteers built fires and shelter along the way so the hiker and his carriers could rest.
Throughout the day, the Cormorant tried to airlift the hiker several times and failed.
"It was very gusty, with driving rain, Poulsen said. "It was not pleasant."
During the night, a fixed-wing Buffalo aircraft from Canadian Forces Base in Comox dropped flares to light the way.
"The flares made it seem like daylight," Poulsen said.
At the foot of the mountain, the injured hiker's family was waiting for him. He was flown to a helipad near the mountain and then airlifted to NRGH.
Vancouver Island Health Authority spokeswoman Valerie Wilson would not comment on the hiker's injury. The Alberni Valley Rescue Squad and the RCMP refused to reveal the hiker's name.
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