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Wrangell - St Elias NP several recent incidents

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Wrangell - St Elias NP several recent incidents

Postby Hacksaw » Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:54 am

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve (AK)
Rangers Respond To Multiple Same-Week Incidents


The week of June 12th was a busy one for park staff, with two searches, a downed aircraft and a close encounter with a grizzly bear:


On Monday, June 13th, the park received a call from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center reporting a request for help received via a SPOT device. Rangers responded via aircraft and found the group on Ophir Creek on the north side of the park. Using a radio drop bag, communications were established and rangers learned that a group backpacking between Horsfeld and Baultoff had become exhausted while hiking in deep snow. Arrangements were made for them to be picked up via air taxi operator. No injuries or illnesses were reported.

On Wednesday, June 15th, rangers received a report of a downed aircraft on the Tana River, a remote tributary of the Chitina River that drains north from the Chugach Mountains. Rangers flew to the location and discovered a Piper Super Cub on its back on an island in the middle of the river. Further investigation revealed that there'd been no injuries and that the pilot had been picked up by another aircraft in the area and flown out. The pilot of the downed plane had attempted an off-airport landing on the short gravel bar but overturned the airplane in high winds. Due to the potential loss of the aircraft to high water, a special use permit was expedited for removal of the airplane by helicopter.

On Thursday, June 16th, rangers were notified of a bear spray deployment by two other rangers on backcountry patrol in the Chitistone region of the park. Evan Olson and Nate Porter were forced to use bear spray to deter a charging mother grizzly bear after two spring cubs wandered too close to the retreating rangers. The charge was repulsed within just a few feet of the rangers.
On Friday, June 17th, Alaska State Troopers reported that a group of Swiss mountaineers had requested rescue from the 13,000 foot elevation of Mount Sanford. Rangers flew to the scene and located three climbers out of a group of four, lost and bogged down in four feet of fresh snow. The whereabouts of the fourth member of the team was unknown. Assistance from Denali mountaineering rangers was requested and they arrived on scene in a Eurocopter A-Star B3 helicopter. All four climbers were located and short-hauled to a location on the mountain where they could be safely evacuated. The unlawfully-guided group became separated and lost in a snowstorm after the guide fell into a crevasse and lost his skis. #-o The three spent a night out in a snow cave and a fourth returned to camp prior to their request for assistance. All four climbers and their gear were reunited at Gulkana Airport within 12 hours of their initial call for help. No illness or injuries were reported.
[Submitted by Michael J. Thompson, Nabesna District Ranger]
"True love is much easier to find with a helicopter."

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Re: Wrangell - St Elias NP several recent incidents

Postby Steve Gio » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:02 am

That was a busy week. Glad to see nobody was seriously injured, including da bears.

Strange thing is that I read this and I want to go. Something about being in Alaska last year has stuck with me and I think about it a lot. Would love to do a trip to Wrangell - St. Elias some day.

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Re: Wrangell - St Elias NP several recent incidents

Postby Steve Gio » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:32 am

I don't know Fletch. You might be too tall with that afro. :lol:

Re: Wrangell - St Elias NP several recent incidents

Postby traderaaron » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:55 am

Wrangell St. Elias, a dream backpacking destination for me, hopefully in the next few years I'll get there.

Oh and kayaking/packrafting in the Russell Fjord area...

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