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Mountaineers Rescued

Tech. Sgt. Amy Picard
Alaska National Guard

A group of 12 mountaineers was rescued Tuesday from a glacier in Wrangell Saint Elias National Park by the Alaska Air and Army National Guard. KUAC’s Dan Bross reports.

Alaska Rescue Coordination Center Director Lt, Colonel Keenan Zerkel says the St. Elias Guides climbing party initially called for help Saturday, reporting two suffering altitude sickness. Lt. Col Zerkel says the party had abandoned their ascent of 16,000-foot Mt. Bona and hunkered down at about ten thousand feet in bad weather.  

…and everything else.”

Zerkel says the extreme conditions thwarted repeated efforts to reach the climbers, until late Tuesday, when a high-altitude Chinook helicopter team was able to make it in. 

…in one lift.”

Zerkel says three of the climbers had minor injuries including one with frostbite. like that.”

Zerkel says the three injured were transported on to Anchorage for care, and the other climbers were dropped off in McCarthy.

He describes a drawn-out rescue operation that included 80 hours of flight time involving Air and Army National Guard planes and helicopters and crews, supported by the National Park Service, local businesses, and individuals.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.