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Alaska, Kenai Range, Mt. Alice

Alaska, Kenai Range, Mt. Alice. (See accident report) As Hitt disappeared from sight, Hoeman and Johnston told the other two less experienced climbers to wait on the ridge while they followed the path of the small avalanche caused by Hitt’s fall. They descended over the two small rock cliffs and the snow slope to the bergschrund at the head of the glacier where they found him. Hoeman cleared the snow from around the victim’s head and shielded him from the stream of water falling from the upper lip of the schrund while Johnston prepared a platform on the lower lip with available packs, and they then moved the victim to this. They briefly ascertained the nature of the victim’s injuries, then Johnston left for Seward for help, while Hoeman anchored Hitt and the pack platform to the ice. Hoeman then returned to the ridge and brought the other two climbers down on a rope. The team began to bandage Hitt’s head, which had resumed bleeding, but breathing stopped so mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was begun. Air was escaping from the victim’s head wounds and ear, and there were soon unmistakable signs of anoxia. Tracheotomy was considered, but the party had no tube, so they tried to stop air flow from the wounds by direct pressure on bandages and continued artificial respiration for nearly four hours. By this time there had been no sign of life and the body was turning cold.

Johnston alerted Alaska Rescue Group at 2:10 P.M., who immediately contacted the Rescue Coordination Center at Elmendorf AFB. They immediately dispatched an H-21 helicopter to the Seward Municipal Airport to pick up Johnston, and included two para-medics with airforce rescue equipment in the group. Rendezvous was made at 5:30, and they were at the accident site at 5:45. By this time the climbing party was lowering the body on a belay. Hoeman descended to the chopper, and he and Johnston returned with a body bag while the H-21 returned to Seward to leave extra gear and personnel. The H-21 returned and evacuated the entire party to Seward by 8:00 P.M.

Source: J. Vin Hoeman, Alaska Rescue Group.

Analysis: Well planned and rapid evacuation.