An experienced mountaineer was rescued by an Army helicopter Thursday after spending nearly 24 hours stranded near the summit of Mount Rainier after falling ill and leaving his climbing party, according to the National Park Service.
Dennis Cui, a 27-year-old mountaineer who is also a member of Canada’s national police force, was climbing with two others.
The team went up Fuhrer Finger Wednesday and were nearly to the top of the 14,411-foot volcano when Cui said he felt too sick to continue, according to a news release.
The trio started to descend the standard route when Cui inexplicably “made a decision to unrope and head directly down the mountain” despite his teammates’ protests, the news release says.
Cui’s fellow climbers called 911 to alert rangers to Cui’s odd behavior and went down to Camp Muir.
Meanwhile, Cui tried to descend Gibraltar Rock. Guides spotted his headlamp around 11 p.m. as he tried to signal climbing rangers at Camp Muir from the rock’s near-vertical face at 12,400 feet.
Rangers were able to text Cui early Thursday and he responded, asking to be rescued and saying that he was freezing and didn’t have overnight gear, park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.
Three guides were unable to reach Cui due to bad weather and poor visibility.
Once conditions got better, the park service sent a helicopter to check out the situation but high winds forced it down.
A Chinook helicopter flown by F Company 2-135th from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was able to reach Cui on Gibraltar Rock about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Cui was flown to Madigan Army Medical Center, where he was treated for severe hypothermia. He suffered no other injuries.
This is the second rescue on Mount Rainier this week. On Sunday, a 24-year-old woman was rescued after falling into a crevasse on the Emmons Glacier.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653