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
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
Eventually, the hikers were brought back to Longmire Lodge near the park's
entrance. They were in very good condition.