Alaska, Mount Marcus Baker

Publication Year: 1965.

Alaska, Mount Marcus Baker. (See accident report) After getting Ruth out of the crevasse they walked her back to camp about 1/3 mile, then placed her on an improvised sled in a sleeping bag made of a polyethylene air mattress, etc., and slid her about 6 miles down glacier (10,600-7,500 feet) to the last level area before some extensive crevasse fields. They were due to meet their brush pilot on the afternoon of 25 June at Grasshopper airstrip (1,200 ft. elevation). Helga and Bousman planned to walk out leaving Aaron and Ruth with 4 days’ rations for 4 (8 for 2) at 7,500 feet. However, the morning of the 23rd saw Dick Hamilton fly over and they gave him a standard ground to air distress signal, an “X”, meaning unable to proceed. He also read the initials “RCC” they stamped in the snow and contacted the Rescue Coordination Center at Elmendorf for them. In all his dealings he has proved to be an astute and responsible brush pilot whose contribution to the rescue was invaluable. About 1½ hours later a HUIA — flown by Capt. Toso of Ft. Richardson with crew chief and medic, flew in, picked them up and deposited the three at Palmer and Ruth in Anchorage where she visited a doctor and was found to be in reasonably good shape — no broken bones or other injury.

Analysis: This was a dramatic time-saving example of the value of climbers (and rescuers) knowing ground to air signals. At least two days were saved in this instance by being able to communicate.