Here’s our story from Phill Michael’s 2007 rescue on Rainier. He was the first person involved in a rescue on Rainier to win the Citizen’s Award for Bravery.
His award inspired park officials to nominated past rescues for the honor.
BY CRAIG HILL
The News Tribune
Phill Michael couldn’t see much as whiteout conditions descended on Mount Rainier on Sept. 16, 2007. He also had no idea what he heard in the distance was about to make him a hero.
As Michael descended from the summit to the Muir Snowfield he heard the voices of two ill-equipped hikers.
“I heard a woman saying ‘We should have brought a better map,’ ” Michael said, “and a man who was vomiting and saying ‘We are going to die.’ “
The hikers might have been right had they not run into Michael. He built a shelter, and the three waited out the conditions for two and a half days before walking to safety.
On Tuesday, Michael will be in Washington, D.C., to receive the Citizens Award for Bravery from the Department of the Interior. The department presents the award annually to citizens who perform heroic acts in the face of danger.
Michael was nominated for the award by officials at Mount Rainier National Park.
“I don’t really think of myself as a hero,” Michael said. “I don’t need an award, but if they’re going to offer it to me, I guess I’ll accept it.”
Michael almost wasn’t there to perform the rescue.
In 2003, he needed open-heart surgery to correct aortic valve disease that would have prevented him from leading an active lifestyle.
He’s made the most of life since the surgery, making his own wine, kayaking, taking long-distance motorcycle trips and climbing mountains. He plans to start a quest to climb the highest summit on each continent next week when he leaves for Alaska to climb Denali.