Alert & Warning Center coordinates Mt. Rainier rescue
Late afternoon on Dec. 3, a 911 call was patched through to Mount Rainier Dispatch from an injured 61-year-old male hiker. He had broken his lower leg when he slipped on a steep icy slope and fell 50 feet just above Panorama Point coming to rest after hitting a rock hard enough to result in a compound fracture of both lower leg bones of one leg, according to a report by Glenn Kessler, who was incident commander for the rescue.
Kessler states in The News Tribune (link no longer works) had this report: "A group of skiers descending from Camp Muir fortuitously came upon the accident site and the injured hiker. The group was better prepared than the great majority of backcountry travelers and was able to radio park rangers with the GPS coordinates and other pertinent information. They then went to great lengths to protect, rewarm and care for the injured party for several hours of cold and windy conditions while mountain rescue resources were summoned to the park to perform a carryout.
"Teams from Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescues were battered by high winds as they performed the late night evacuation by rescue litter. The operation included several steep-angle technical roped lowers down the icy slopes of Panorama Point. Rescue efforts continued into the wee hours of the morning. The injured hiker was transported by ambulance to the hospital."
The News Tribune noted that temperatures during the night fell to the upper 20s, with wind speeds reaching 21 mph.
"As it has done for many of the 761 SAR missions this year, our Alert & Warning Center coordinated the resources from three regional mountain rescue teams to bring this individual off the mountain alive," says Chris Utzinger, the response section manager with the Emergency Management Division. "A job well done by all involved … so that others may live."