February 25, 2013 at 6:55 PM
Rescuers, 2 stranded snowmobilers reach safety of snow park this morning
UPDATE: 7:00 a.m. | The snowmobilers and their rescuers are reported to be back at the snow park, after spending the night on the mountain.
UPDATE: 5:45 a.m. | Rescuers and the snowmobilers are estimated to be about two hours from the the rescue base camp this morning, according to William C. Akers with the King County Sheriff’s Office. Conditions could change that, but at this point, the group is on the move and the snowmobilers appear to be doing well.
UPDATE: 11:45 p.m. | Rescuers have reached the couple, who appear to have no injuries, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office. The rescue crew is helping them warm up and hoping to get them off the mountain soon.
UPDATE: 11:00 p.m. | A rescue crew was within a mile of the stranded snowmobilers at around 10:15 p.m., according to the King County Sheriff’s Office. Another crew had to turn around after a ridge they were walking along gave way. At least one volunteer fell, but no injuries were reported by the crew, which is now attempting an alternate rescue route.
Search and rescue teams know where two snowmobilers have been stranded near Blowout Mountain since Sunday, but are still struggling to reach them.
A 44-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman became stranded in an area between Blowout Mountain and Twin Camps Sunday because of whiteout conditions, said King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Charlie Akers.
Instead of heading back in dangerous conditions, they built a snow cave and fire to keep warm overnight. Because neither were prepared to camp overnight, they are running out of food and getting colder, Akers said. The woman is apparently showing signs of hypothermia.
At about 9:50 a.m., the man was able to hike to an area with cellphone reception and reach his daughter. She then called for a rescue. About 40 search and rescue team members from the King County Sheriff’s Office and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department have been looking for them ever since using GPS coordinates.
But the terrain has proved difficult for an on-foot rescue.
“Just getting from the trailhead up the mountain carefully and being cautious of what’s underneath the snow has been difficult,” Akers said of the search teams’ effort.
There has been no talk of using a helicopter to rescue the two today and they may have to spend another night out in the cold if rescue teams don’t reach them soon, Akers said.
About 10 inches of snow fell on mountain passes today, but snow showers should taper off tonight, according to Gary Schneider, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Although it’ll be cold — likely in the 20s — Schneider said most of the night and tomorrow should be dry.
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