By Henry Netherland
Pathfinder 

Two men rescued off Holland Peak

 

October 15, 2020

Henry Netherland, Pathfinder

An Army National Guard HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter lands at the Condon Airstrip after transporting two men off of Holland Peak Monday, Oct. 5.

SWAN VALLEY- A 56-year-old man and his 31-year-old hiking partner were rescued from  Holland Peak Monday, Oct. 5 after one of the men experienced a life-threatening medical condition. The men were airlifted from Holland Peak by the Army National Guard Medevac Team and the patient was transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center via ambulance.

According to Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy and Incident Commander Ryan Dunster, Seeley-Swan Search and Rescue was called at 1:10 p.m. Monday afternoon. SSSAR volunteers staged with Swan Valley Emergency Services Quick Response Unit in Condon while they worked to reach the pair using air resources. Missoula Life Flight helicopter was unable to land due to the location of the duo. They would have had to land about 500 yards further up the mountain which the pair was unable to reach.


Dunster coordinated with the Army National Guard to provide an HH-60 Black Hawk out of Helena to assist with the rescue since Two Bear Air Rescue Helicopter was out for maintenance.

According to a Montana Army National Guard press release, the organization's Joint Operations Center received an official request at approximately 2 p.m. Four crew members left the Army Aviation Support Facility at 3:30 p.m. and arrived at the hikers' approximate location at 4 p.m. Missoula County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Robert Parcell was put on-board the aircraft to aid in locating the hikers.

The hikers were hoisted, with assistance from a crew member on the ground, approximately 100 feet to the aircraft.  Both hikers were on board at 5:20 p.m. and transported to the Condon Airfield where they were then transported by the Big Fork Ambulance to the Kalispell Regional Medical Center at around 5:45 p.m.

The rescue was conducted in turbulent winds, at an elevation of 9,300 feet according to Captain Tom Meredith, pilot in command of the mission.

"Over the last 12 months we have done extensive training for scenarios just like this," Meredith said. "We were able to bring it all together for the mission on Monday in a dynamic environment, at a high altitude and turbulent winds. Search and Rescue missions are much like the MEDEVAC missions we perform overseas. Participating in state missions is a very meaningful and rewarding part of our job, especially when we are able to aid in a successful rescue, save a life and return individuals home to their families."


There is no charge as a result of the mission as part of the department's cooperative agreement to not charge in times of need.

In total, about 23 emergency responders assisted in the rescue efforts.

Pathfinder file photo

Holland Peak sits just above 9,300 feet.

 

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