Injured Skier on Mt. Rainier – Mission Report

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TMRU Mission ReportNovember 21, 2013

The rescue of an injured skier in the Panoramic Point area above Paradise on the night of November 21st was made more complex when word came to rangers that a snowboarder was reported lost in the same area.

At 3 p.m., word was received that a 36-year-old skier had fallen down a 200 foot ice field and had severely broken his knee. By the time rangers were able to reach and assess him, waning daylight precluded the safe use of a helicopter as a means of extrication, so rangers began setting up a technical raising.

As they were doing so, it became apparent that to conduct this operation safely, additional outside resources would be needed. Six members of Tacoma Mountain Rescue and six members of Olympic Mountain Rescue, all trained volunteers, responded from various areas around Puget Sound to help conduct the rescue. In the meantime, a tent and sleeping bags were sent up to the site to protect the skier from the elements.

Although skies were clear and calm overnight, temperatures were in the 20’s throughout the ordeal. The laborious task of carefully raising the injured man and sledding him down to Paradise in darkness took most of the night.

Around 9 p.m., while this rescue was underway, the park received a report that a 36-year-old solo snowboarder was lost in the Pebble Creek area above Paradise. The man had texted his girlfriend and reported that he was trying to get back to the parking lot, but that he was unable to do so because of the darkness. This area is on a ridge with steep ice fields and gullies along the way. Freezing weather had created a hard, slippery ice crust throughout the area, and a slip or fall could have proven deadly.

Ranger Kevin Ross, the incident commander for the rescue that was already underway, directed several of the rescue volunteers to begin a hasty search in the area of Pebble Creek. As they searched for the man, they called out his name. Around 12:20 a.m., they got a response.

The snowboarder was found near Pebble Creek.

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