IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Bittersweet results in Mount Rainier rescue

One of two climbers stranded on Mount Rainier died Thursday before the other was plucked from the mountain in Washington state by a helicopter, officials said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of two climbers stranded on Mount Rainier died Thursday before the other was plucked from the mountain by a helicopter, officials said.

The climber, Jon Cahill, had died by the time a party of five rangers reached the two, who were stranded at 11,300 feet, said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Barry Fraissinet.

His partner, Mark H. Anderson, had a wrist injury and was evacuated by an Oregon National Guard chopper, said Guard spokeswoman Kay Fristad. He was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was in satisfactory condition, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson.

Both climbers were firefighters and trained as emergency medical technicians, Fraissinet said.

Cahill fell early Thursday as the pair tried to ascend Liberty Ridge, one of the most difficult routes up the 14,410-foot peak, according to Fraissinet. The accident happened about 1,000 feet below where a climber was fatally injured in a fall last month.

The Guard helicopter dropped a party of five climbing rangers 500 feet below the injured climbers. The rangers climbed up to assist with the evacuation by helicopter but found one of the climbers dead. They then helped rescue the other climber.

Medic descends on a cable
The Black Hawk held steady as a medic was lowered by cable. The rangers hitched the injured climber to the medic and the pair was pulled into the helicopter.

The men had expected to reach the summit by midmorning Thursday, but called for help on a cell phone Thursday morning.

On May 15 on the same ridge, climber Peter Cooley tumbled down a steep, icy slope and hit his head on a rock spur. His climbing partner, Scott Richards, maneuvered the two of them to a tiny flat spot, but the Maine men were stranded for two days as temperatures dipped below freezing in whiteout conditions.

Cooley, 39, was picked up by a National Guard helicopter May 17 but died on the way to a hospital. Accompanied by two rangers, Richards hiked down to a glacier the following day and was picked up by a helicopter.