Paraglider spends cold night on cliff near Port Alberni

Bad weather hampered helicopter rescue

A paraglider has recovered after spending a cold night stranded on the Beaufort Range near Port Alberni.

The Alberni Valley Rescue Squad (AVRS) was tasked with rescuing a fallen paraglider on the evening of Friday, April 12, after he had reportedly collided with another paraglider in mid-air and was forced to deploy his reserve chute. He landed in the Beaufort Range in steep terrain.

“He landed in an area where he was stranded,” explained AVRS president Dave Poulsen. “It was all cliffs there, and very steep.”

Ground crews were unable to access the paraglider due to the “steep and slippery” conditions, said Poulsen, and evacuation proved to be difficult. The AVRS requested the help of the North Shore Rescue, but the helicopter was hampered by inclement weather on Friday evening.

The paraglider was forced to spend the night on the mountain in cold temperatures and snow, but was retrieved during a brief weather window early Saturday morning.

“He had some exposure issues, but no injuries,” reported Poulsen. “We were successful in recovering him, and now he’s happy and healthy.”

This is the second call that the AVRS has received for a fallen paraglider in the Alberni Valley area in the past month, although the first turned out to be a false alarm. Poulsen said that the activity has taken hold and is becoming more common in the Alberni Valley.

“The thermals off the Beaufort are fairly stable and fairly consistent,” he explained. “It’s definitely been a learning experience for us. It wouldn’t surprise us if this trend continued.

“It’s certainly something to be aware of,” Poulsen added.

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