NEWS

3 Canadian climbers pulled from crevasse on Mt. Rainier

09/03/2013 08:49 EDT | Updated 11/03/2013 05:12 EST
Three Canadian climbers are recovering in hospital after falling 15 metres into a glacial crevasse while trying to summit Washington's Mount Rainier over the weekend.

Two of the climbers — one from Surrey, B.C., the other from Edmonton — were airlifted off the mountain to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where a spokeswoman said they were in serious condition.

The third man, whose injuries were less severe, was taken to another hospital.

The climbers' names have not been released, but hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said the two seriously injured men are both 31 years old.

"Both are in our in the intensive care unit, but they are serious and improving and both conscious," she said in an interview.

Ice made summit attempt treacherous

The climbers reportedly fell about 15 metres into a crevasse on Emmons Glacier early Sunday morning while on their way to the summit of the mountain.

They were at about the 3,500-metre level on the 4,400 metre active volcano, said a news release from the U.S. National Park Service. The Emmons Glacier route is reportedly one of the most difficult for climbers.

The incident was reported by another climbing team that happened to see the three fallen men at about 3:50 a.m. Sunday. A crew of about 36 personnel worked on the rescue.

A helicopter pilot managed to drop a four-person rescue team to within about 30 metres of the accident scene and the injured men were extracted using a new short-haul rescue helicopter system, said park officials.

More than 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Rainier every year, but fewer than half that number actually reach the summit, according to statistics from the Park Service.

The Seattle Times reported that rain over the weekend at elevations as high as 3,330 metres had later frozen, causing icy conditions.

One other climbing team, RMI Summit Guides, decided to end its bid for the summit at the 3,413-metre level after team members encountered treacherous conditions on Sunday, making their way across Cowlitz Glacier to safety at Camp Muir and back to the base.

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