10/02/2013 08:26 EDT | Updated 12/02/2013 05:12 EST

Mount Albert Edward Hikers Found

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VICTORIA - A gruelling multi-day search for two hikers missing in deep snow and foul weather on Vancouver Island has ended with their safe return.

Comox Valley Search and Rescue tweeted that 22-year-old Jean Simon Lessard and 31-year-old Christopher Yao were found on Wednesday morning.

The Victoria residents were airlifted to safety two full days after they were reported missing on a hike to Mount Albert Edward in Strathcona Provincial Park, about 50 kilometres due west of Courtenay, near Buttle Lake.

The men set out on the weekend, despite warnings of a major storm, and were reported overdue on Monday morning.

Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue crews joined the Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue team as it traversed the park's challenging terrain, said Capt. Trevor Reid of CFB Comox.

"Thick cloud and fog in the area posed challenges to the air search and transport efforts throughout Tuesday morning and again when another crew launched Tuesday evening," Reid said.

He said the ground crew found the two men in a tent at about 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, about six kilometres west of Mt. Washington.

The men and four members of the search team were loaded aboard the Air Force helicopter at about 10 a.m., Reid said.

"The hikers had good equipment and knew what they were doing," Master Cpl. Samuel Chennell-Pepin of CFB Comox said in a news release.

"They had been in a tent and had heard the helicopter circling the previous day. They eventually heard the (ground search) whistles and were able to meet them. They were both in good spirits when we brought them back."

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