Rescued hiker ‘lucky to be alive’

Hiker gets saved by helicopter

  • Jul. 13, 2011 6:00 p.m.





A man had to be rescued by helicopter on Saturday after he became stuck on the face of a mountain in Fernie Alpine Resort.

Calen Gahlinger Beaune, 20, who lives in Fernie, set off hiking around Mount Fernie Provincial Park on Saturday afternoon, but became lost and found himself stonewalled 100 metres from the summit in Snake Ridge, between the Cedar and Fish bowls.

He was able to call Fernie Alpine Resort and ask for help from his cell phone. The RCMP and Fernie Search and Rescue were not able to reach the man because of the precarious position he was in and decided to get help from Parks Canada and Alpine helicopters in Banff. A helicopter found Gahlinger at about 7 p.m. and two trained long line specialists used ropes to pull him off the mountain.

“It was impossible for the helicopter to land anywhere near the man in order to pick him up,” said Cpl. D. Erichsen from the Elk Valley RCMP. “A long line rescue crew on standby in Banff National Park had to be called to assist and by the time their services were requested, it was touch and go as to whether there would be enough daylight left in the day to complete the rescue.”

The team used 100 feet of rope to suspend a rescuer below the hovering helicopter. Beaune was secured into a harness and pulled off the mountain face.

He was finally rescued at around 10 p.m. just before darkness.

“It was really something to watch,” said Erichsen. “There was no time to waste and the heroism of the Parks Canada crew, executing this rescue in ever decreasing daylight, can not be overstated. They were simply amazing.”

Erichsen said the man is “lucky to be alive,” and if it hadn’t been for the RCMP’s knowledge of available resources, and the quick response of the rescue team, he probably would not be.

“The Parks Canada Team in Banff was on standby and was the only group that would have been able to respond in time to complete the rescue before daylight was lost.

“If it hadn’t been for them, and the fact that Cpl. Sullivan was aware that they were on standby, Beaune would not have made it off that mountain tonight and, with the position he was in, there is no way he would have been able to stay on the ledge where he was standing. The outcome would have been tragic.”

Fernie Search and Rescue said that after the rescue “the man was in good spirits and unharmed by his ordeal.”

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