WENATCHEE — Emergency managers, rescue climbers and helicopter crews had to deal with not one, but two serious injuries Wednesday that stranded patients in Chelan County’s mountain backcountry.
While local rescuers and Navy pilots were trying to coordinate on a complicated rescue of one fallen climber from the north face of Mount Stuart, a hiker on Lichtenberg Mountain north of Stevens Pass also had to be hoisted out of the wilderness for medical treatment.
Sheriff’s Deputy Rich Magnussen with Chelan County Emergency Management said the Mount Stuart rescue originated with a call about 10:20 p.m. Tuesday night, after 23-year-old Lucile Townley of Carnation was struck by a falling rock during her descent. The accident caused her to fall about 30 feet, leaving her with a broken leg, broken arm and head injury about 9,000 feet up. Her climbing partner called 911.
A first attempt to reach Townley by a Naval Air Station Whidbey rescue helicopter was unsuccessful that night, and a second one Wednesday also failed because of heat and altitude. Thin air conditions meant the helicopter rotors could not safely sustain the aircraft for a rescue, Magnussen said.
Earlier, helicopters from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and Chelan County Fire District 1 had brought Chelan County Mountain Rescue climbers close to Townley’s location, and they climbed to her position to apply aid. After the helicopter aborted its attempt, the team roped Townly up and lowered her about 1,000 feet to a glacier field, where the helicopter was able to make a safe pickup.
Townley was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Magnussen said.
During the Mount Stuart operation, Seattle hiker Corey Sorenson, 35, fell about 40 feet and injured his hip Wednesday on Lichtenberg Mountain near Lake Valhalla. Magnussen said his office first learned about 6:49 a.m. Thursday that Sorenson and his partner were overdue from a hike. Another hiker came across the two later on Wednesday morning, and activated an alert beacon.
A King County Sheriff’s Office Air Support helicopter crew, requested by Chelan County, was able to hoist Sorenson to safety about 11 a.m. Wednesday. He too was airlifted to Harborview. The hospital did not respond to a request for either patient’s condition Thursday.