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2 Climbers Rescued in Alaska, 2 Still Missing

April 12, 2002|From Reuters

ANCHORAGE — Two climbers were rescued from Alaska's second-highest peak, while their two expedition partners were missing and presumed dead, the National Park Service said Thursday.

The events occurred on Mt. St. Elias, which rises to 18,008 feet and is on the Alaska-Yukon border and on the eastern edge of Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The Alaska National Guard launched a rescue mission after the climbers' air taxi pilot flew over the peak early Wednesday and saw a message stamped in the snow that said two were dead and two needed rescuing, the Park Service said.

Plucked from the mountain Wednesday and flown to Anchorage were John Griber and Greg Von Dorsten, both of Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Park Service said.

Their partners, Aaron Martin of Lake Tahoe and Reed Sanders of West Yellowstone, Mont., were presumed dead, the Park Service said.

Griber, Martin and Sanders were descending from the summit on skis Tuesday when Martin and Sanders disappeared, the Park Service said.

Griber told officials he saw Martin fall at least 4,000 feet.

Von Dorsten, who had frostbitten hands, was at a camp at the 14,500-foot level of the peak and had not attempted to reach the summit, said Hunter Sharp, Wrangell-St. Elias' chief ranger.

The mountain was enveloped in a snowstorm Thursday, but attempts to locate the missing climbers will resume when weather clears, he said.

Mt. St. Elias is considered technically challenging. It is attempted by few climbers, in comparison with Alaska's Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak, which draws more than 1,000 climbers every summer.

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