Three Canadian climbers were rescued by helicopter early Sunday morning after falling 15 metres into a glacial crevasse while trying to summit Washington’s Mount Rainier.
Two of the climbers — one from Surrey, B.C., the other from Edmonton — were airlifted from the mountain to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition.
By Monday afternoon, the Edmonton man was well enough to be discharged, while the Surrey man remained in serious condition.
The climbers’ names have not been released, but hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said the two men who were seriously injured are both 31 years old.
The third man, whose injuries were less severe, was taken to another hospital. His current condition was not released by officials.
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 near 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.
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.
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.
Mount Rainier has claimed seven lives since 2010, including Peter Almerling, a father of three from North Vancouver, who reached the summit in July, but slipped while skiing down and slid into a glacier.
Almerling was airlifted to hospital in Vancouver in critical condition, but never recovered from the traumatic injuries he sustained in the fall.