At 8.00 pm 9/8/2004 on Sunday evening Don Mason from the Falls Creek Police Station rang to seek assistance from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club Search and Rescue group.
Three people on the summit of Mt Bogong had contacted emergency services by mobile phone requesting urgent assistance. They were all very cold and one was suffering severely from hypothermia. They had dug snow holes beside a snowpole [Number 1264] near Eskdale Point with blizzard conditions prevailing.
Five members from B.N.S.C. plus a ski patroller from Mt Hotham responded to the callout and met at Mt Beauty Police station at 10.30 pm.
Police vehicles transported our group to Camp Creek Gap where the ascent of Eskdale Spur began in very cold, windy conditions with snow falling.
The search group reached the people at 4.15 am. Tents and emergency procedures were organised and the hypothermic person was dug out of his snow hole which was covered by 1.3 metres of snow. At this stage this person was in a serious condition.
After a further four hours of warming the group up, the Ambulance Medi-Vac helicopter was able to land in a break in the weather and the three men were air lifted from Mt Bogong.
The B.N.S.C group packed their gear and began their descent where they met Police S and R personnel who had almost reached the summit. They returned to Mt Beauty at 12.30 p.m on Monday.
High praise was given to this group by the Police who were monitoring the situation. Weather conditions were severe and the situation for the three people requesting assistance was life threatening.
Birkebeiner Seach and Rescue members attending were:
- Jim Gargan
- Paul Grusovin
- R ob Boland
- Jarrod Paine
- David Panozzo
Gordon Guest-Smith from the Mt Hotham Ski Patrol also participated.
The treatment given by Gordon and Jarrod was invaluable. Both had outdoor/wilderness first aid qualifications.
Author: Philip Evans B.N.S.C. S and R contact.
All members of the search team were subsequently awarded a National Bravery Medal in 2005 for their contributions to this search and rescue operation.