By Pat Jenkins
Two climbers on Mount Rainier had to be rescued in separate incidents four days apart last week.
Helicopters were used both times to take the climbers off the mountain.
In the first incident, Mount Rainier National Park rangers pulled a climber from a crevasse May 28 and had her airlifted from the 12,300-feet elevation of Emmons Glacier by the park’s helicopter.
The climber, a 24-year-old woman, suffered pelvic and back injuries and head lacerations and was taken by ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup for treatment.
Park officials said she fell into the crevasse while descending from the mountain’s summit.
She was among three climbers who had finished climbed the mountain that morning and were descending by skis and snowboard when the mishap occurred. Six rescuers flew to the site and used ropes to raise the injured but responsive climber 100 feet to the surface of the glacier by nightfall. Two rangers spent the night with her on the mountain while the rest finished descending the mountain with her companions.
In the second incident, a sick climber stranded at the top of Gibraltar Rock on the south side of Mount Rainier was hoisted to safety June 1 by an Army Reserve/Air Force team flying a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord this afternoon. The rescue occurred almost 24 hours after the climber, a 24-year-old man from Canada, became separated from his two fellow climbers near the mountain’s summit, according to park officials.
On May 31, the group reached the summit via the Fuhrer Finger climbing route (named for Hans and Heine Fuhrer, who pioneered the route in 1920) when the one climber became ill and told the others he couldn’t continue.
They began to traverse to a standard route to go down the mountain when the sick climber unroped from the team and headed down alone, despite their pleas for him to stay with them, officials reported.
They returned to Camp Muir and called 9-1-1 to alert rangers, starting the rescue. That night at about 11 o’clock, Dennis Endong Cui, 27, of Surrey, British Columbia, was found after he signaled with his headlamp at Gibraltar Rock, at an elevation of about 12,400 feet. Rangers advised him via text messaging where he could find safety, but he replied that he needed to be rescued because he was “freezing” and had no overnight gear, officials said.
Three members of the Rainier Mountaineering guide service tried a rescue but were thwarted by poor weather and low visibility. Park rangers were eventually able to see Cui and sent the park’s helicopter to retrieve him, but wind was strong for the aircraft, requiring an Army Chinook helicopter from JBLM to complete the rescue. Parajumpers from the 304th Rescue Squadron in Portland, Ore. rode the hoist to pick him up.
Cui, who officials said is an experienced mountaineer and a constable in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was flown to Madigan Army Hospital for treatment of severe hypothermia.