(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — Alaska Air National Guardsmen are working to rescue hikers stranded on a glacier about 50 miles east of Anchorage.
Lt. Col. John Morse, deputy director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, said in a press release from the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs that the climbers were dropped off near the Knik glacier on April 3, but were unable to make their scheduled pickup two days later due to weather conditions. “They’re stuck at approximately 8,500 feet in elevation,” Morse said, adding that the hikers were forced to shelter in an ice cave after heavy winds damaged their tent.
The group was able to send a text message to a friend using a satellite-based device. That friend “has been working directly with us to help facilitate communications,” Morse said Thursday.
Ongoing weather conditions have made it difficult for the guardsmen to reach the climbers, even with multiple aircraft in on the mission. Multiple attempts to reach the group were made Thursday morning, and all were unsuccessful due to darkness and decreased visibility from low cloud ceilings.
A guardsmen helicopter attempted to drop a team into the area to make their way to the climbers on foot, but couldn’t get close enough to make the drop.
Morse did say that bundles of food, fuel and shelter were dropped for the climbers, but that the group had been unable to reach the bundles.
“They’re typically not seeing the ground, flying in instrument conditions, surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks, attempting to drop supplies to the climbers,” Morse said. “This is a pretty complicated mission.”
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