The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Annette Shacklett
LOG Editor 

Hikers rescued from Marathon


Mount Marathon again reminded folks that she’s a wilderness mountain on Feb. 19 when three hikers became stranded, one injured and needed rescue.

That afternoon – a clear, sunny day in the 20s with no rain or wind – Bryce Clark, 19, and Phillip Ling, 19, both of Wasilla, and Patrick King, 19, of Nikiski, all students at AVTEC, hiked up the junior race trail. The three had never been on the mountain and carried no overnight gear. On their way back down they decided to veer off the icy, wet trail because the descent looked easier, Seward Fire Chief Eddie Athey told the LOG.

Ling took a tumble in a ravine about halfway down, injured his right leg and was unable to stand for more than about 30 seconds. His colleagues tried to help him down the mountain but could go neither up or down, and help at the same time.

Equipped with cell phones, at about 6 p.m. they called Seward Police Department dispatch for help. Now full dark, SPD requested that Seward Volunteer Fire Department and Seward Volunteer Ambulance Corps respond to the mountain. SVFD sent two rescue teams up. They reported treacherous, icy and wet conditions on the trail.

One team put one rescuer in contact with the hikers by lowering him by rope to their location. With him the rescuer had blankets and warming gear. They built a fire and used space blankets to stay as warm as possible.

SVFD called in the Rescue Coordination Center at JBER, and the 210th Rescue Squadron dispatched a Blackhawk helicopter to hoist the hikers and rescuer from the scene. State troopers were also notified and responded.

The Blackhawk was on scene by 10:30 p.m. and hoisted down two pararescuemen who assessed the situation. The hikers and SVFD rescuer were hoisted off the mountain and taken to Providence Seward Medical Center.

The three hikers had mild hypothermia. The injured hiker was treated and released.

By 12:30 a.m. all the rescue teams were off the mountain and the Blackhawk was headed home.

A total of 24 responders and 156 man hours were accumulated in the rescue, according to a SVFD press release.

“People need to be prepared to spend the night if they go up that mountain,” Athey said. There’s a false sense of security because it’s so close to town, he said, “But it’s wilderness and it doesn’t pay to disrespect that.”

The chief reminded people who go up the mountain, summer or winter, to be prepared and to let someone know when they expect to return. He said even the people who are on the mountain every day go prepared to stay warm and be there for a while in case something happens.


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