Two climbers were rescued by helicopter from the Kautz Climbing Route on Mount Rainier Friday, according to the National Park Service.
A U.S. Air Force Chinook helicopter with the 304th Air Rescue Squadron out of Portland attempted an early morning rescue operation, but it was unsuccessful due to heavy and erratic winds. They returned several hours later to assess conditions and extricated the first climber by hoist from the Kautz Glacier surface.
Later that afternoon, the National Park Service Contract Helicopter 25CL inserted a team of four Mount Rainier National Park climbing rangers at 13,000 feet on the mountain. The team climbed down to the incident location where they accessed and removed the second climber from 80 feet deep inside the crevasse that he had fallen into. He was then extracted from the glacier surface by short-haul by the 25CL helicopter.
Deep snow, strong and erratic winds and limited visibility at the accident site caused significant challenges for the National Park Service and military rescue teams.
On Wednesday, May 11, at 8:10 p.m., the party reported via a 911 call that adverse weather had forced them to halt their ascent at 12,800 feet on the Kautz Glacier climbing route just below the Wapowety Cleaver.
The party did not initially request assistance. In a subsequent call at 7:30 a.m. the next day, the party indicated that they were still mobile and planning to attempt a descent of the Disappointment Cleaver Route.
Progress of the team was monitored through cell phone signals.
Three hours later, at 10:30 a.m., the climbers reported that one member of the party had fallen into a large crevasse, sustaining arm and leg injuries. The individual in the crevasse was able to establish cellphone contact with Mount Rainier National Park Dispatch and his partner on the glacier’s surface, but they were unable to self-rescue. Terrain and weather prohibited immediate rescue efforts.