Search and Rescue crews have been kept on their toes this Memorial Day weekend. Friday morning, May 27, 2016 began west of Snoqualmie Pass searching for a father and son hiking Mt. Definance. Although experienced hikers, the duo was visiting from Germany and was described as not familiar with the local area. They had not return from their planned hike the night before – and temperatures had dipped into the 30’s.
The two were located quickly, and although cold and hypothermia being a big concern, technical rescue crews were able to bring Henning and Paul Braess successfully off the mountain.
As crews were finishing up this mission, they were called to nearby Kaleetan Peak where a hiker was reportedly cliffed out. Crews also successfully reached the stranded hiker and walked him back to the SAR mission base.
AND, as crews wrapped up on Kaleetan Peak, they were called to Guye Peak (north of Snoqualmie Pass) Friday night for a hiker who became lost in the fog and accidentally ended up on the ledges along the face of the peak.
Crews worked until 2AM looking for a route to access the stranded hiker, but could not ascend to him due to the wet, foggy and dark conditions.
Four search teams headed back out three hours later – at first light of Saturday morning. Two teams headed to the summit to try accessing the hiker from above and another two teams headed back to the south rib route they had tried the night before.
Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR) said via their Facebook page that unfortunately, it snowed Friday night on the upper part of the mountain, which made conditions far more challenging for their members.
By late Saturday morning, teams had made voice contact with the hiker, but the mission was nowhere close to over.
SMR said a rescuer had to be lowered 650 feet to the man’s location and then both were hauled back up to the south summit – which was a very long process. According to SMR, hoisting the hiker and rescuer out involved the small summit team of five members pulling a rescue rope system for what amounted to nearly 6,000 feet.
Once the hiker was hoisted to safety, crews continued warming him and then began the long descent off the mountain, which involved hours of scrambling, rappelling and hiking back to mission base.
It took until 3AM, Sunday, May 29th before all teams were out of the field.
SMR said they have had much longer search missions, but in terms of knowing where someone is located and actually getting to them – this was one of the longest.
From the SMR Facebook page:
“A big thanks to Olympic Mountain Rescue for climbing to the summit and helping with the rescue, Everett Mountain Rescue for carrying rescue gear to the summit and then setting up the descent route, King County Explorer Search and Rescue for also helping setup the descent route and bringing extra food and Gatorade into the field, King County 4×4 Search and Rescue for the rides to and from base (always amazing to hop into a warm car after coming down from a long day in the rain), and The Soup Ladies for the great food. We also wanted to thank the neighbors that live around Alpental: when we started showing up, they started making food for the rescuers and continued throughout the weekend.”