PMR Assists in Rescue of 3 Hikers on Mount Rainier
Sunday, April 6, 2003
(Updated Monday, April 7, 2003)
 
Sunday afternoon, Portland Mountain Rescue joined teams from around the Pacific Northwest in the rescue of three missing hikers on Washington's 14,410-foot Mount Rainier.
 
The day hikers had become lost Saturday afternoon in white out conditions while descending the Muir Snowfield on the mountain's South face.  The subjects had left the parking lot at Paradise Lodge and hiked on foot, but turned around when weather conditions worsened.  They became disoriented on their descent and ended up wandering on to the Nisqually Glacier, a large ice fall to the West of Muir Snowfield.
 
As the weather continued to degrade, the hikers dug a snow cave and ended up spending the night on the glacier. The cave most likely saved their lives, as they were not prepared to spend the night.
 
On Saturday evening, the subjects were able to contact 9-1-1 using a cell phone, but did not know their exact location and only communicated that they were on Mount Rainier near the Paradise Lodge area.  The dispatcher forwarded this limited information to National Park Service Rangers, who began to organize a search.
 
That evening, NPS officials mobilized teams from Tacoma, Olympic, Seattle and Portland Mountain Rescue units.
 
The PMR team is briefed on the search area.


Search teams stage near the Nisqually Glacier in support of the rescue.


PMR member and NPS Climbing Ranger Glenn Kessler was the first rescuer to make contact with the subjects.
 
 
Early Sunday morning, the Washington based rescue teams deployed with National Park Service climbing rangers to search several areas near the Muir Snowfield.  PMR reached the Park in the late morning and joined the mission shortly after 12:00 pm.
 
One PMR member already on the scene was NPS Lead Climbing Ranger Glenn Kessler (pictured above), who led a team onto the Glacier and was the first person to make voice contact with the missing hikers.  He yelled for the hikers - like he had been doing frequently during the search - and fortunately received a reply from nearby.  Due to the considerable avalanche danger, only Glenn and a handful of other rescuers descended to reach the subjects.  Though the snow conditions were less than ideal, Glenn's team was able to lead the hikers out of the glacier.
 
During this time, the remaining Washington search teams mobilized near the glacier to provide support as needed.  Shortly thereafter, another NPS climbing ranger led a small PMR team carrying snowshoes and heat packs up to the glacier.  The hikers did not have snow travel equipment, so the delivered snowshoes allowed them to more easily walk on the deep snow.  A second PMR team joined the other teams at the staging area in support of the rescue effort.
 
Eventually, the hikers were brought back to Longmire Lodge near the park's entrance.  They were in very good condition.