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Church campers plucked from 300-metre cliff face

Two kids from a church camp had a close call on the weekend when they got trapped at the top of a 300-metre drop-off on Anvil Island and had to be rescued by air.

Two kids from a church camp had a close call on the weekend when they got trapped at the top of a 300-metre drop-off on Anvil Island and had to be rescued by air.

The boys, seven and 12, set out on a day hike with fellow campers on the Howe Sound island shortly after noon on Saturday when they got separated from their group. Disoriented, the pair wandered toward a steep, hazardous area on the sheer north face of Anvils peak. With the afternoon waning, they found themselves on a cliff band about 300 metres above sea level, unable to go any further and unable to backtrack. The boys started screaming for help.

A boater passing near the north end of the island heard the cries and eventually figured out they were coming from the tiny figures at the top of the cliff. The boater radioed in their position to authorities.

Lions Bay volunteers passed the call along to North Shore Rescue, who quickly scrambled a flight team. Racing against the encroaching darkness, the crew spotted the victims on a first fly-by, then touched down on the island to rig up a rescue apparatus. A volunteer dangling from the end of a long-line plucked the boys from the cliff face at about 6 p.m. and flew them to a clear area back at their camp.

The boys were unharmed.

It was fortunate the victims were found when they were, said Tim Jones, team leader with North Shore Rescue. A nighttime, overland operation might not have had such a happy outcome, he said.

The northeast of Anvil is almost completely vertical drop-offs into the ocean, said Jones. These kids were very lucky they stopped where they did, and we were able to spot them in diminishing light. . . . Any further delay, and their call would have required 20 to 30 volunteers to be deployed on a rope rescue, which would have been very dangerous.

jweldon@nsnews.com