By Zach Jablonski
A search and rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island negotiated an 800-foot climb to rescue an injured 71-year-old hiker who had fallen down a 300-foot ice chute near Mount Ellinor on May 22.
The unidentified hiker was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with possible leg and head injuries.
The Navy team arrived at the location just north of Lake Cushman at about 5:05 p.m., 20 minutes after receiving the call for help.
Some 15 minutes later, the clouds lifted enough for the helicopter to get near the hiker, but the two-man rescue crew had to be dropped about 800 vertical feet below the hiker, according to a press release from the Navy.
A ground rescue team from Olympic Mountain Rescue was at least a five-hour hike away, according to the press release.
Using crampons, ice axes and their litter, the crew members took about an hour to climb 800 feet up the ice chute to reach the hiker.
Meanwhile, the helicopter pilots flew back to Boeing Field, refueled and returned for the extraction by the time the two ground rescuers reached the man and prepared him for transport, the release said.
The helicopter team was able to extract the hiker, his partner and the two rescuers.
The helicopter landed at the hospital at about 7:05 p.m., the release said.