Two hikers who were rescued from Mt. Albert Edward in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island this morning admitted they ignored warnings about impending storms and that they shouldn't have embarked on the hike.
Jean Simon Lessard, 22, and Christopher Yao, 31, were airlifted off the mountain by a Search and Rescue Cormorant helicopter Wednesday morning, after spending four nights on the mountain, apparently trapped by a snowstorm.
"Yes, we did make a mistake," said Lessard.
Yao went on to say that "knowing that the weather wasn't that great, we should have called it quits from the get-go," and that he is thankful for the rescue effort.
"I think the first word that comes to my mind is 'elated'. And super happy to be safe and sound and in good hands," he said.
Yao's family arrived at the search site from Ontario this morning.
View Larger Map Mount Albert Edward
RCMP Const. Nicole Hall said the pair were found in good health and were flown to the Comox Air Force base for transfer to hospital, but have since been released.
"Just after 9:00 a.m. this morning a fresh set of tracks was seen from the air on a ridge near Moat Lake. This allowed teams to focus their search and the hikers were located just after 9:30 a.m," said Hall.
According to Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, the pair were found safe in a tent, approximately six kilometres from Mt. Washington.
"The hikers had good equipment and knew what they were doing," said Master Cpl. Samuel Chenelle-Pepin with Comox Valley GSAR.
They had heard helicopters circling above while in a tent the previous day, and Chenelle-Pepin said the pair eventually made their way in the direction of rescue whistles searchers were using.
"They were both in good spirits when we brought them back," he said.
The pair left Victoria on Friday to hike up Mt. Albert Edward, one of the highest peaks on Vancouver Island, located in Strathcona Park near the Mount Washington ski resort. They were supposed to return home on Sunday.
When they failed to return, they were reported missing on Monday afternoon, and a search was launched involving dozens of people and two helicopters.
On Tuesday, the search was joined by a third helicopter, but deep snow on the ground and poor visibility continued to hamper the efforts.