This past Sunday, Sept. 8th, I was trail running the Pacific Crest Trail, North of Snoqualmie Pass. On my way out, I heard a helicopter come up the Pass, then sounded to come up the Alpental Valley. Right away, I heard the heli make some kind of pass then back to an idle, I then knew something was not right. However, in less than 10 mins or so, the Heli flew away. I finished my run out, went home, then the next morning I checked out the amazing King Co. Sheriff’s Search and Rescue POV video (that is attached below). The video is just over 5 minutes long, but for the crew it must have seemed like hours… Check it out, but FIRST you need to read our bro’s eye witness story. I had no idea the story continued after the heli flew away, but it did and doing so long into the night/morning. I’m very thankful for all of the first responders out there that are truly skilled and risk their lives every time they are called to duty.
The first hand write up below is from our friend and Alpental loc, Adam Cooper. (photos courtesy Seattle Mountain Rescue)
September 8th, a beautiful day threatened to become a nightmare. We witnessed the stunning possibilities of what happens when smart, dedicated, and brave people cooperate. Shortly after 11:30, 1300′ up the sheer face of Guye Peak, the lead climber in a party of six fell and shattered both his ankles and injured his back. The party was fortunate to be close to a long, cave-like ledge cut into the tall and sheer face of the cliff. After taking refuge there, they contacted King County Search and Rescue. KCSAR showed up and began to assemble an incredible team in the field to cover all kinds of contingencies and rescue routes. Their professionalism and numbers were impressive. Meanwhile, four of the six climbers began their descent down the mountain. The injured climber and one friend stayed behind to await rescue, no longer in the sun but in the lengthening shadows. Six hours after their distress call, a Sheriff’s helicopter came into the valley and surveyed the situation up close. After several circles, the pilot brought the helicopter dangerously close to the sheer cliff wall and a rescuer began descending on a line to the stranded climbers. For what seemed an eternity, the hanging rescuer, the helicopter pilot and the rescuer controlling the rope in the helicopter engaged in a subtle and deadly dance bring the dangling rescuer in closer and closer, swinging painfully slow circles towards the climbers. One near miss occurred as everyone on the ground gasped, but they could not hold on. The next circle brought them close enough to take hold of each other, and the rescuer was pulled onto the recessed ledge. A minute later, the rescuer swung off the cliff with the injured man, and the helicopter slowly pulled away and began to retract the two back up to the chopper as the pilot flew back out of the valley. (Will post link to video from helicopter) This was absolutely stunning to witness, especially as we and a few neighbors were the only ones anywhere close to the KCSAR operations. The media was wonderfully absent, and so the bravery of every person there was not bravado, their determined looks and focus was not for show. They were the A-Team, exactly who you would want to show up if you were ever in deep trouble in the deep woods. I feel privileged to have been given a glimpse of their mettle and their ability, and I feel proud knowing we have citizens and law professionals like them in our midst. But this was only the beginning, as many more heroic efforts were yet to be made. One climber was now stranded on the cliff face alone, as we heard the pilot deemed it too dangerous to try again.
photo above and below courtesy Seattle Mountain Rescue
Now they needed to send in rescuers from above to rappel down 900 feet to him, and then together the final 1300′ down to the bottom. And sunset was minutes away. Six hours later in the darkness, we watched the stranded climber’s headlamp look upwards as another headlamp descended towards him. They connected, and he finally at least had company in his ordeal. (Certainly, he is a true friend and lives the good mountain code and I would buy him a beer if I meet him.) But it was another six hours until everyone was off the mountain. I understand over 45 people from KCSAR took part and dedicated their Sunday, their sleep, probably a vacation day, and risked their lives when the call came in. Would I answer that call? Yesterday made me want to find out… I send a big thank you to all the good people from KCSAR we met and watched at work out there. Thank you for being gracious to my kids and I hope we stayed out of your way. That was an eventful day and night at our firepit, to say the least.
POV video below