Tacoma Mountaineers Honored at Red Cross Heroes Breakfast

Six Mountaineers climbers were honored at the 20th annual Pierce County Red Cross Heroes Breakfast for assisting a badly injured climber in an emergency in the wilderness.
Michelle Story Michelle Story
April 05, 2014

On October 23, six Mountaineers climbers were honored at the 20th annual Pierce County Red Cross Heroes Breakfast for assisting a badly injured climber in an emergency in the wilderness.

On June 16, 2012, Julie Myer led an Intermediate climb on the east ridge of Ingalls Peak. Julie and her team of Mike Baker, Sharon Carlson, Kevin Hornback, Jerome Velosky and Jeff Vernon completed the climb as dusk approached and the weather grew stormy with increasing winds, rain and snow. As they returned to the head of the gulley at the approach of the climb to pick up cached gear, they ran into two climbers they had earlier seen behind them on the route. One climber was lying in the snow covered by a space blanket, and they learned that he had slipped while rappelling and injured his hip. His climbing partner was desperately boiling water to keep the injured climber warm. He had made calls to the County Sheriff and Chelan Mountain Rescue, but was told that they wouldn't be able to reach them until the next morning.

Sharon has experience as a firefighter, and she assessed the injured climber's condition and determined that it was critical to get him off the snowy ground to prevent hypothermia. The group determined that they needed to move the climber from his precarious location to prepare for a future rescue, so they rigged a series of ropes and prepared to lower him to more level ground. Julie and Jeff returned to their camp to retrieve tents, sleeping bags, stoves and other gear to sustain the injured party and his partner before additional help arrived, while Mike, Sharon, Kevin and Jerome lowered the injured climber nearly 1,500 ft. to a level spot near Ingalls Lake. Julie and Jeff rejoined the others with the retrieved gear, and the team set up a tent over the injured climber and his partner, keeping them safe and dry until additional help could reach them.

Not having sufficient resources for another night themselves, the team of Mountaineers descended in the dark. At 1:30 a.m. they encountered Chelan Mountain Rescue, whom they briefed on the injured climber's condition and location. They later learned that the injured climber was admitted to Wenatchee Hospital where he was treated for a fractured pelvis. Thanks to the urgent care rendered by the team of Mountaineers on that cold late spring day, he made a full recovery without permanent injury.

Because of their willingness to assist a fellow climber in need at risk and inconvenience to themselves, and owing to their preparedness and training, the members of this team of Mountaineers were honored as Heroes at the 2013 Pierce County Heroes Breakfast.


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