Short-haul helicopter used to lift injured skier at Mount Rainier National Park

Staff writerMay 14, 2014 

Rescue rangers at Mount Rainier National Park used a short-haul helicopter procedure Sunday to lift an injured skier from Lane Peak.

Early Sunday afternoon, an unidentified skier was hit by a large chunk of falling ice and snow in a tight gully on Lane Peak near Reflection Lake, according to an account from chief ranger Chuck Young released today. The skier tumbled down the steep and narrow gully, sustaining face and neck injuries.

Rangers and two off-duty climbing guides and their friends who were nearby made their way to the scene and assessed the skier’s condition and began medical care, Young said.

The park's short-haul helicopter was called and lifted the skier just before sunset. He was then taken by ambulance to the hospital. Seventeen mountain rescue volunteers also responded and were prepared to evacuate the injured man by ground if the short-haul operation became impractical.

The park has a contract with Olympia-based Northwest Helicopters to have a rescue helicopter on call. The company uses a MD 530F helicopter, an aircraft that is much smaller than the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter used by military units used at the mountain in the past.

The use of a shorthaul-capable aircraft was one of the recommendations in a report that looked at what happened following the 2012 accident in which climbing ranger Nick Hall died. Hall slipped and fell to his death while trying to secure a litter being lowered from a CH-47 twin-rotor Chinook helicopter.

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