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Rising waters prove rescue obstacle

Rising waters in Cougar Creek hampered the rescue of an injured climber last week and experts say backcountry users need to be wary of the situation. On Sunday (June 5), a climber in the Cougar Creek area suffered a short fall and injured a knee.

Rising waters in Cougar Creek hampered the rescue of an injured climber last week and experts say backcountry users need to be wary of the situation.

On Sunday (June 5), a climber in the Cougar Creek area suffered a short fall and injured a knee. Conservation officers and Canmore Emergency Services personnel walked in to the site with a wheeled stretcher, but Burke Duncan, Kananaskis Country Public Safety Specialist, said high water in the creek resulted in Conservation Officer Ken Spreadbury slinging the victim out with a helicopter.

“It was rough ground and high water in the creek,” he said. “You have to cross the creek several times to get to the site and it was decided it would be safer to sling the climber out.”

With continued rain expected this week, Duncan said backcountry users need to be wary, when crossing creeks like Cougar and in Grotto Canyon, that hikers on a return trip could face much stronger flows than on their way in. At times, creeks can become nearly uncrossable.

Also on Sunday, a kayaker on the Kananaskis River spilled out of their craft and was reported missing by friends. Fortunately, said Duncan, the kayaker was spotted walking on the highway by a conservation officer. The call was made when the kayaker didn’t appear at a meeting spot at a set time.

Finally, on Monday (June 6), a 10-year-old child was reported missing at the Mt. Kidd campground, but was located shortly after.

In changing from a walkout rescue for the climber to a sling operation, Duncan said the decision is not made lightly as any helicopter flight into a canyon area has complications; for the pilot as well as the rescuer being slung below the craft. “You’re calm,” said Duncan, “but there is a heightened sense of awareness of everything.”


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