The challenge of high-altitude rescues on Mount Rainier
A search and rescue helicopter crew plucked an injured skier from near the top of Mount Baker on Monday afternoon, May 13, U.S. Navy officials said Tuesday.
A 21-year-old man, who was with a group of skiers, broke his ankle near the Roman Wall on the 10,781-foot volcano’s western face, said Michael Welding, public affairs officer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
His injury occurred at the 10,000-foot level, Welding said in an email.
“When the SAR helicopter arrived on scene, they immediately spotted several skiers pointing out the injured skier,” Welding said of the airlift operation. “The injured skier was hoisted on board the SAR helicopter and transported to Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham by approximately 4 p.m.”
No other information about the man was available.
Welding said the Navy maintains search and rescue teams with three MH-60 Seahawk helicopters to support its EA-18 Growler electronic warfare aircraft at Whidbey Island. Those helicopters are available for civilian rescue when not performing military missions.
Just last week, its crew was summoned to help with the rescue of two people who fell from a cliff at Larrabee State Park, but the injured people went by boat instead.
According to The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based climbing organization, the Roman Wall is a classic feature of Mount Baker and part of the ascent for climbers attempting the Coleman-Deming Glacier route.
Mount Baker is popular among climbers in the late spring and summer months, and injuries are not uncommon. A Seattle-area doctor died in June 2012 when he skied off an 800-foot cliff on the Roman Wall.