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What about people who paid for memberships to use facilities now buried under the collapsed structure? Martin said an announcement will be made on The Dome's website about plans for members in the next few days. Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska. Subscribe Customer Service. All content. Alaska News Earthquake. Alaska Life We Alaskans. Alaska Marijuana News.
Arts and Entertainment TV Listings. Opinions Editorials. Politics Alaska Legislature. Sports National Sports. He instructed me to build a snow anchor on the same level as Arnie and directly above a small snow bridge that crossed the lower crevasse. I collected the pickets and climbed up 15 feet to where Arnie was perched. About 25 feet left of him I planted a vertical picket and tied into it. Then I buried two deadman anchors, equalized them, and planted another vertical picket so that it would share the load. When it was all done my hands were purple and stinging from the cold.
I clipped into the completed anchor system and carved a seat into the snow beside it with my adz; that gave me a solid stance from which to belay. Mark tied into the other end of the rope with Arnie to help slide him along and give him support. At some point during the preparations Amanda started to down climb. A lot of ideas were getting thrown around and we prioritized things that were more likely to work.
Colleen pulled out her phone. Her GPS app had been a godsend on the bushwhacking approach. Could she also get an emergency call out? It was worth a shot. Arnie was able to move some under his own power. He groaned and guarded his ribs, but at least with him in control the pain was self-inflicted. I would have felt worse if we had to pull him around by his climbing harness. Mark planted an ice ax within easy reach and Arnie used it to pull himself forward a few inches.
Then while he recovered, I took in the slack rope and Mark replanted the ax a few inches further. Each of us found a rhythm. Ax, crawl, rope, recover, repeat. Progress was slow, but Arnie was inching his way toward me. At the same time, and at a similar pace, Amanda was inching her way down the west face.
The sun was intense and reflecting off the snow like a solar oven. I lowered a bight of rope to Josh and asked him to clip a water bottle to it.
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I was parched. It took about a half hour for Arnie and Mark to cover the 25 feet that separated us. About then we saw Grant plunge-stepping down from the col with a full pack on his back. Josh and Chelise scrambled down to meet him on the flat and set up the tent. Now at the anchor, it was time for Arnie to change direction and head downhill toward the flats. This meant he had to trust my anchor.
He looked down at the lower crevasse. He looked up again and asked, "did you use two pickets? With this encouragement he shifted his weight to the anchor. I fed rope to him through the Munter hitch, slowly at first, and Arnie crawled backward down the slope letting gravity do most of the work. It was still very painful but he was gutting it out. The angle mellowed as they got further down. They reached a point where it was easier for Arnie to stand upright and walk backward down the slope, then he was able to move a little faster. The tent was just 50 feet further and they had plenty of rope to reach level-ish ground.
At this point, everyone else was down on the flat. They prepped the tent with insulating pads and a warm bag and then maneuvered Arnie inside. I cleaned the ropes and anchor, then made my way down as well. Amanda was still down-climbing when we first heard the powerful thumping of a helicopter rotor echoing off the valley walls. It was both exhilarating and a relief. Does anybody see it?
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For 15 minutes or more we heard the chopper get louder then fade away with our heads turned to the sky. It had to be close, we speculated. It was so loud!
When Snowhawk crossed over the ridge and we heard the full volume of its beating rotor, I felt such elation! They made a couple passes over us, circling the basin as we waved our arms furiously, then stopped at very near our eye-level but yards down the glacier. The chopper hovered for half a minute then inexplicably peeled off and headed back down the valley.
Could they not land on the glacier? Did they need more personnel?
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We continued to watch, as they set down briefly on a low-lying ridge at the foot of the valley then lifted-off again and flew back in our direction. They returned to their earlier hovering position, but this time the chopper sank lower, and lower, until it nearly touched down. A tall man in an orange flight suit and white helmet climbed out onto the skid and hopped three feet down onto the snow. He took a litter from the doorway and was followed by a second medic in a navy flight suit with curly dark hair. The helicopter lifted off again and headed back down the valley.
The men started up the glacier kicking steps with their boots. Excited greetings were exchanged when they reached us. Mark briefed them as they walked together toward the tent to check on the patient. The two tall men crammed themselves halfway into the tent to check Arnie out. After the assessment and more discussion, the curly-haired medic slipped out of the tent to radio the helicopter crew. They were going to lift Arnie up to the helicopter in the litter. Dave, the orange suited medic, called some of us over to help slide Arnie into the litter.
Then we turned him feet facing down hill and blocked the litter with our boots to keep him from sliding away. She was getting close to the bottom and seemed to be out of danger, but was still 15 minutes away. The helicopter returned. The pounding rotor wash nearly blew away the empty tent despite the ice axes staking 3 corners, so Grant jumped inside to weigh it down.