Climber Rescued From 12,200′ on Mount Rainier, WA, Had Fallen into 80-Foot Crevasse

CragBrains | ClimbingClimbing

mount rainier, Washington, crevasse, rescue
Location of the incident site. Credit: NPS

A team of two climbers was rescued by helicopter from the Kautz Climbing Route, Mount Rainier, WA, on May 13, 2022.

On May 13, the USAR F Company 2-135th Chinook helicopter with the 304th Air Rescue Squadron out of Portland, Oregon on board, attempted an early morning rescue operation which 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’ on the mountain. The team climbed down to the incident location, where they accessed and removed the second climber from 80’ 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 the limited visibility at the accident site caused significant challenges for National Park Service and military rescue teams.

On Wednesday, May 11, 8:10 pm, the party reported via a 911 call that adverse weather had forced them to halt their ascent at 12,800’ on the Kautz Glacier climbing route just below the Wapowety Cleaver. The party did not initially request assistance. In a subsequent call on May 12, at 7:30 am, 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 am, the subjects 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 cell phone contact with Mount Rainier National Park Dispatch and his partner on the glacier’s surface, but they could not self-rescue. Terrain and weather prohibited immediate rescue efforts. Planning for aviation and ground team response moved forward for implementation when conditions permit.

A CH-47 Chinook from USAR F Company 2-135th GSAB and members of USAF 304th Air Rescue Squadron out of Portland, Oregon, National Park Service climbing rangers, and the Mount Rainier National Park contract helicopter 25CL were involved in the operation.

More information about the route is available on the Kautz Glacier Route Guide.

Wikipedia says: Mount Rainier, also known as Tahoma, Tacoma, Tacobet, or təqʷubəʔ, is a large active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, located in Mount Rainier National Park about 59 miles (95 km) south-southeast of Seattle. With a summit elevation of 14,411 ft (4,392 m), it is the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington and the Cascade Range, the most topographically prominent peak in the contiguous United States and the tallest in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

Due to its high probability of eruption in the near future, Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes globally, and it is on the Decade Volcano list. A large amount of glacial ice means that Mount Rainier could produce massive lahars, threatening the entire Puyallup River valley. According to the United States Geological Survey, “about 80,000 people and their homes are at risk in Mount Rainier’s lahar-hazard zones.”

Tacoma would see the effects of a Rainier explosion
Mount Rainier, WA, is the world’s most dangerous volcano. Credit: Wikipedia Commons
rainier, Washington,
Mount Rainier National Park, WA

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