Severe Weather Leaves Two Skiers Stranded On Alaska’s Harding Icefield In Kenai Mountains For Four Days
Harding Icefield, Alaska – On Friday, April 8 Jennifer Neyman, 36, and Christopher Hanna, 45, were flown by plane to Bear Glacier on the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska. Their plan was to ski for the day and be picked up that evening. Things did not go according to plan.
Severe weather came in and made their scheduled pick up impossible. Both planes and helicopters had to turn around due to strong winds, snow, and white out conditions. Luckily, Neyman and Hanna had brought overnight survival gear with them. The two had a lightweight tent, two days worth of food, cell phones, and satellite messaging devices.
On Saturday night the snow and wind destroyed their tent and they had to seek shelter in a snow cave. They were able to communicate with friends and rescuers via a satellite messaging device. That device pinpointed their location at “4,300-foot level of the 13-mile-long glacier, one of more than 30 in the Harding Ice Field, the largest ice field entirely within U.S. boundaries.” (ABCNews.go.com).
On Monday a ground rescue was attempted, but the team could only get dropped off about 8 miles away. They had to turn around due to the crevasse hazard. Supplies were also dropped that day, but it is unclear whether they were collected.
On Tuesday, April 12 rescuers were dropped off at a different point and tried to approach the stuck skiers. During this rescue attempt, a break in the weather allowed a Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk military helicopter to fly in and land near the stranded skiers. Those rescuers had to dig out four feet of snow to find Neyman and Hanna in their snow cave.
Both were recovered in good spirits. They were flown to Soldotna to be evaluated at the hospital.
Here is a short video featuring Captain John Romspert of the Alaska Air National Guard providing an update about this incident.
Pinpoint is Bear Glacier Point, not location of skiers.
What’s the lesson from this one? Always have survival gear and bring a satellite messaging device!