View Full Version : Fall traps 7 hikers on Mount Olympus
01-22-2006, 10:58 AM
Fall traps 7 hikers on Mount Olympus
Injuries: Rescuers ready overnight supplies for stranded group of seven
By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Rescue crews Saturday night were trying to reach seven hikers hurt and stranded on Mount Olympus in eastern Salt Lake County - and preparing for the possibility the group would have to remain on a frigid slope overnight.
The alpine hikers, all from the Salt Lake City area and members of a Korean climbing group, fell about 4 p.m. while hiking on the mountain, said Lt. Chris Bertram of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Three of the hikers might have severe injuries, he said, and the four others are thought to have minor injuries.
Rescue crews began searching about 6 p.m. After a medical helicopter found the hikers 760 feet from the summit, six rescuers were airlifted onto the mountain to hike down to the stranded party.
By 10:30 p.m., the rescuers were in voice contact with the hikers, Bertram said.
Those rescuers were preparing an emergency plan in case any of the hikers were in critical condition and had to be removed from the mountain immediately, he said.
Darkness prevented the use of a helicopter hoist to remove the hikers, Bertram said, but some other sort of helicopter rescue might be possible. Ideally, he said - if the injuries are not too severe - the rescue would take place this morning, in daylight.
The group, comprising five men and two women, all between the ages of 40 and 60, had gear for a day hike. They used a cell phone to reach help.
The hikers are at about 9,500 feet elevation on a 60-degree slope, Bertram said. Snow was not expected overnight, but temperatures were expected to dip into the single digits. Supplies, including cold-weather gear, were being prepared to be air-dropped to the group late Saturday night.
01-22-2006, 09:41 PM
Helicopter Plucks Stranded Hikers Off Mt. Olympus
January 22nd, 2006 @ 6:00pm
Tonya Papanikolas reporting
Rescuers and a group of stranded hikers are all safe this evening, after many of them spent a frigid night on 9,026-foot Mount Olympus.
Three of the hikers were taken to hospitals this morning. But none of their injuries are life-threatening.
It started Saturday morning. Seven hikers head up the Mount Olympus trail. They planned to return by 4 pm. At 6:00 police receive a call saying several of the hikers have fallen and are hurt.
At 9 pm, search and rescue teams are flown in by helicopter. They reach the injured hikers just before midnight.
Three of the hikers walk out overnight. But it isn't until first light this morning that helicopters are able to get in and bring the others out, after spending a long cold night on the mountainside.
The hikers' injuries ranged from frostbite to broken bones and injuries to their arms, legs, ribs, chest and back. They'd come prepared for a day hike. They had blankets. But they hadn't eaten for about 10 hours when rescue crews reached them.
Before 7:00 this morning, the first three stranded hikers made their way to dry ground. After snowshoeing out with half of the rescue team, they were checked out by paramedics and reunited with family. Then they got something to eat.
In Han/ Rescued Hiker: "I am so sorry about our members, because we got in some accidents."
The seven hikers-- part of the Korean Wasatch Mountaineering Club-- had hiked up to Mount Olympus on Saturday. But on the way back down, they somehow ended up east of the trail.
Daniel Smith/ Search & Rescue Team: "As they came down, one by one, it was so steep that they lost their footing."
Three of the hikers slid up to 100 feet right between the two mountain summits.
In Han: "They fall, so first we take care of them."
The rest of the hikers made their way down the mountain to help. After rescuers got the news, a helicopter dropped off six volunteer searchers, who had to rapel 600 feet in the dark to reach the victims.
In Han: "The rescue team brings warm stuff-- sleeping bags, and then they keep us warm."
Steve Achelis/ Search & Rescue Team: "I think they were pretty comfortable. We got them in eight sleeping bags. We got them piled up. We got their injuries taken care of or stabilized."
After the first three victims hiked out, a Life Flight helicopter flew out the last four, one by one.
The helicopter would drop a person, and sometimes gear, onto the mountain. It was very dangerous! That person would then help hook up the victims before they were flown across the sky back to safety.
In Han: "Without the rescue team's excellent job, maybe we would have really big problems."
To stay warm, rescuers shoveled snow for most of the night. They woke up the victims every 20 minutes to check their vital signs.
These hikers were pretty experienced. They've hiked quite a few significant peaks throughout the Wasatch. They say they are very thankful to the search and rescue teams. They hope to be hiking again when everyone is healthy.
Here are the names of the hikers:
In Han, age 47
Inheu Yun, age 41
Hoon Lee, age 51
They all live in Utah, and are, again, members of the Korean Wasatch Mountaineering Club. The three men who walked out were all treated at the hospital and released.
Jakyung Sung, 51
Abeyta Kiok, 50
Usun Park, 63
Oknam Han, 43
The other four-- three of them women-- were the ones who were airlifted. They all remain hospitalized tonight.
01-22-2006, 09:42 PM
Rescuer Describes Difficult Rescue Operation
January 22nd, 2006 @ 5:59pm
John Hollenhorst reporting
Rescuers say this was the toughest and most complex rescue they've ever handled in the Wasatch Mountains. One rescuer was first to the scene and stayed with the victims through the night.
The command post is in sight of where many of us live, just above Wasatch Boulevard. But a hike from here leads to some very tough terrain. And when the seven victims slid and fell, they wound up in very deep trouble.
As the command post took shape at the Mount Olympus trailhead, James Taylor took off by helicopter. About 9 pm he was dropped high on the mountain, just the beginning of a nearly three-hour trek in the dark.
James Taylor/ Search & Rescue Team: "Lot of trees, lots of rocks, pretty dangerous insertion. And then we went up and over the summit of Mount Olympus and had to rappel down to the saddle between the two summits of Mount Olympus. Then down to the patients. Pretty hazardous, actually."
Taylor and a fellow rescuer assessed the seven victims and began calling in bleak radio reports on broken bones.
Voice on Radio: "Appears to be a closed left humorous fracture."
At first there were tough decisions. Could the most seriously injured stay on the mountain all night?
Voice on Radio: "There's still a possibility we'll want to bring in a litter tonight and evacuate one of these patients."
But in such steep terrain taking them out in the dark was extremely risky. They weren't brought out until morning because rescuers were well equipped for a night in the cold and snow.
James Taylor: "We brought in a lot, personally. Then we also had LifeFlight drop in care packages that had sleeping bags, food, water, Gatorade, medical supplies."
The victims themselves were well dressed. Before help came, they'd built a platform to rest on.
James Taylor: "They had gotten out of the main slide areas. They were pretty secure. They were pretty smart and took care of what they needed to take care of. They just needed help getting out because the injuries were severe enough that they could not have walked out."
James Taylor: "It was pretty busy, actually. I mean, from the time we arrived all through the night, four patients, you're pretty much constantly taking care of them."
James Taylor: "We kept brewing hot water, making sure they were staying warm inside. The cold was the biggest threat last night. The injuries themselves we weren't able to secure and splint until this morning."
Taylor himself walked out at dawn, with the three victims who were able to walk.
No question this was the toughest rescue he's done in the Wasatch. But the team leders says this is what they train for, and what they're always ready to do.
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