Two Bear Air - Amazing Helicopter Mountain Search & Rescue!

  • I've been aware of Two Bear Air search & rescue for several years. Although they are based in remote Whitefish, Montana, the provide free & quick backcountry rescue service to Montana, Idaho, & Eastern Washington. They have performed several mountain rescues in Idaho, where they almost certainly saved injured climbers from death, on remote peaks.

    Here's a link to their "About Us" page.

    And more from their website:

    How long has the Two Bear Air Rescue program been active?
    Two Bear Air Rescue began flying missions in January 2012. The Bell 429 began flying missions in November 2013.

    How is Two Bear Air Rescue sent on missions?
    The requesting agency calls Flathead County 911 Center. Then the request is sent to the Flathead County Sheriff and Search and Rescue Coordinator for dispatch.

    How does Two Bear Air Rescue interact with ambulance services, fire agencies, or local law enforcement?
    Two Bear Air Rescue provides Search and Rescue services, working in conjunction with ground ambulances and Air ambulance services by coordinating transfer of rescue victims for transport to local hospitals. Two Bear Air Rescue missions are under the authority of the Sheriff in each County which they are working in.

    What types of aircraft are flown?
    Bell 429 — state-of-the-art twin-engine, light helicopter that is equipped with a Rescue Hoist and Infrared camera system.

    How is the Two Bear Air Rescue program different from Air Ambulances?
    Two Bear Air Rescue main mission is Search and Rescue and extraction of victims from remote places where an Air Ambulance can’t land.

    Whitefish philanthropist Mike Goguen provides all costs of Two Bear Air Rescue including the purchase of the helicopters. He also funds all associated training, operation and maintenance costs.

    Two Bear air.png

    Two Bears rescued two Idaho climbers off Mt. McGowan in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains last weekend. Flight distance from Whitefish to McGowan is roughly 270 miles. When they were contacted about the rescue, the response was:

    "I didn't get the full debrief, but from what I know is that they were one, unprepared, and had lost an ice axe. I don't believe they had any ropes either.
    I'm not sure of their route. There vehicle was located next to Stanley Lake, where we turned them over to SAR. I've attached some photos and if you zoom in, you can see their tracks in the snow. Which would be on the North, NE side of the peak. There was a skier, skiing the couloir that is seen from the parking lot, who got video of us. He posted it in Instagram if you search Two Bear Air Rescue. Not sure if that helps.
    That's about all I know... We just snagged them and dropped them off. Let me know if you have any additional questions."

    Here's one of the photos. I added a red arrow to show the stranded scramblers.
    mcGowan rescue May 2020-small.jpg

    I must confess to being impressed with where those two lads ended up, on their attempt to hike/ scramble, what might well be a new route on "world-class ball-bearing" granite.

    Here's a summer photo of McGowan from a distance, showing what I think was the scrambler's high point with a red arrow.

    mt. Mcgowan from Pentax forums-rescue.jpg

  • Very cool.

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