Essentials for hiking the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
A missing hiker was located by a helicopter crew from the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which was able to direct a search and rescue team to her location Monday, May 20, on the Twin Sisters.
On Sunday night, a hiker who was summiting the mountain in the Mount Baker Wilderness called 911 to report that she was lost, cold and only had a few minutes remaining on her cell phone battery, according to a press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
According to information provided to The Bellingham Herald by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Kevin Hester, the hiker was with another woman, and they were hiking from off Mosquito Lake Road when they got separated on their way back to the car.
The sheriff’s office called the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch to ask for assistance in locating her, according to the release.
The crew was not able to launch until after 6 a.m. Monday due to inclement weather, the release said, but once it was in the air it made several passes over the mountain, focusing on the normal climbing routes on the western slope of the north Twin Sister.
During one of the passes, the crew noticed movement under a tree, the release said, and they were able to partially match the woman they saw to the description of the missing hiker.
The area where the woman was found was too steep and tree covered to attempt a landing, the release said. Instead, they directed her to stay and communicated her location to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team.
The search and rescue team had difficulty locating a route to the hiker, so the helicopter team flew ahead to lead the team to her. She was disoriented and suffering from hypothermia, according to the release, but the search and rescue team was able to lead her to safety.
Hester said the hiker was uninjured.
“In addition to our homeland security mission, we often take an active role in search and request missions alongside our local law enforcement partners,” Bellingham Air and Marine Branch Director of Air and Marine Operations Todd Hoyt said in the release. “Thanks to our agents’ training and knowledge of the area, we were able to help rescue this hiker before the situation became worse.”
It was the fifth rescue in Washington state the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch has played a role in so far in 2019, the release stated.