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Rainier ranger: Climbers showed courage by staying alive

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on April 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
April 27, 2010 6:27 pm

Climbing rangers rescued two young climbers Tuesday afternoon on the south slopes of Mount Rainier a day after the Canadians were caught in adverse weather and fell 75 feet into a crevasse.

Both climbers, a man and woman in their early 20s, were able to walk with rescuers to nearby Camp Muir where they were later airlifted off the mountain. Neither climber sustained life-threatening injuries, but both had symptoms related to hypothermia, said park spokeswoman Patti Wold.

The female climber complained of neck and back pain, Wold said.

Both climbers, whose names have yet to be released, are from Quebec and intended to summit the 14,411-foot mountain but were surprised by blizzard conditions Monday afternoon below 10,000 feet.

According to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center wind gusts reached as high as 92 mph Monday at Camp Muir.

“They chose to go up to Camp Muir in a white out and ended up walking off the edge of the Muir Snowfield and tumbling onto the Cowlitz Glacier, into a crevasse,” said ranger Glenn Kessler, rescue commander, in a prepared statement. “This is a mistake made by both novice and expert climbers.”

The female climber called 911 from her cell phone at 5:45 p.m. Monday and said her partner was semi-conscious. Five climbing rangers attempted to reach the climbers Monday night but two were turned back because by the adverse conditions.

The climbers survived temperatures as low as 15 degrees.

“They displayed a lot of courage and character in staying alive …,” said veteran climbing ranger David Gottlieb.

The rescue rangers, assisted by guides from International Mountain Guides and Alpine Ascents International, reached the climbers Tuesday morning. Wold said more than 20 people were involved in the rescue.

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