01/14/2013 12:49 EST | Updated 03/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Snowshoers, rescue team, okay after help from military amid blizzard conditions

POWELL RIVER, B.C. - Rescuers had to endure conditions they described as being in the middle of a snowball, as two snowshoers were plucked from a mountain near Powell River, B.C.

A military helicopter was called early Sunday morning to assist exhausted search and rescue teams as they trekked through deep snow and challenging terrain to reach the stranded pair on Tin Hat Mountain, on the Sunshine Coast, northwest of Vancouver.

Air Force Capt. Luc Cotes, first officer of the rescue helicopter, says technicians were lowered to the snowshoers, who had become disoriented in the dark and hampered by the deep, drifting snow.

Cotes says the heavy snowload in the trees was blown around by the chopper's downwash, creating almost blizzard-like conditions that hampered efforts to lift the two aboard.

All five members of the Powell River Search and Rescue ground crew were also winched aboard because two were too tired to make the return trek, and the added weight of seven additional passengers, plus the rescue gear, further complicated the hoisting manoeuvre.

The two snowshoers and their ground rescuers were airlifted to Powell River, where all were checked over by paramedics.