On Monday, July 16th, North Cascades National Park received notice of a SPOT beacon emergency alert from near the northern Picket Range. The beacon was registered to a man who had a week-long back-country permit in the area for a party of two. Two rangers responded with the park's contracted search and rescue helicopter from HiLine Helicopters to investigate.
The two climbers with the beacon were quickly found by the helicopter team, but at a location with no landing site nearby. The climbers clearly indicated over and over that they were okay, but seemed to gesture another message, at first difficult to understand.
Gathering more information from the park's Wilderness Information Center, the SAR rangers eventually found that a party of six indeed had a seriously injured climber in a nearby gully. This location also was not near a possible helicopter landing site. The two rangers and pilot found a staging site in the Access Creek basin and from there were able to insert a ranger into the accident site by helicopter. The ranger and patient were then short-hauled to the staging site.
The patient was a 49 year old male who had fallen an estimated 1200 feet across steep snow and rocks down a gully on Luna Peak's east flank. He suffered a head injury and extremity fractures. A medical helicopter from Airlift NW was brought in to fly the patient to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he is expected to remain for another week.
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