North

2 with high-altitude sickness, 10 others rescued off Alaska glacier

A group of eight clients and four guides in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park were removed Tuesday from Klutan Glacier, southeast of Mount Bona.

Group of 12 contacted park officials Saturday for help for three ailing mountaineers

A glacier in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The rescue this week of 12 people from the park played out over several days as poor weather prevented helicopters from landing in about 20 attempts. (Neal Herbert/U.S. National Park Service)

Two mountaineers experiencing high-altitude sickness were taken to a hospital in Anchorage after spending days in the wild, officials said Wednesday. Another was treated for minor frostbite injuries.

The three were part of a group of eight clients and four guides in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. All 12 were removed Tuesday from Klutan Glacier, southeast of Mount Bona.

The group were at the 4,267-metre level when they contacted park officials Saturday for help for three ailing mountaineers, Alaska National Guard spokesperson Maj. Chelsea Aspelund said.

The group traveled down to the 3,048-metre level where a National Guard Chinook helicopter landed.

The initial plan was to only remove the three ailing mountaineers, and the others were going to continue their expedition, Aspelund said.

The rescue played out over several days as poor weather — including 97 km/h winds and snow — prevented helicopters
from landing in about 20 attempts The poor weather also made the guide's aircraft unable to land.

"As the weather made the extraction so much harder and multiple days at that point, when the Chinook landed, they were like, 'OK, let's all go,'" Aspelund said.

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