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Search & Rescue On Mt. St. Helens

May 16, 2016


Skamania County Deputies, North County EMS/ Volcano Rescue Team, and MSH Institute Climbing Rangers and US Forest Service were very busy Saturday evening. There were over 500 climbers registered to summit.

At 6:43 pm, the Sheriff’s Office received a call, reporting an overdue hiker with an infant, lost on Mt. St. Helens. The initial information obtained was this climber became separated from her group. One of the four Mt. St. Helens Institute climbing rangers on the mountain, Andy Goodwin, had summited and was on his decent when the call was received. The conditions, accurately forecasted, were low visibility, rain, low clouds, and fog with temperatures in the  40’s.

Goodwin located the hiker, Lisa Nelski, 28, from Vancouver, Washington and her child at the 6500’ level. She was with another male hiker, who had also become lost on his way down. The Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue coordinator was advised all three hikers were in good condition and would be escorted down by Goodwin.

While on their way down, our office received another call of two couples now overdue from their hike. The reporting party told dispatchers that Mike and Erika Uribe, along with another couple planned to hike Mt. St. Helens and were to depart the Marble Mountain Snow Park at approximately 0700 hours.  They had not yet returned of checked in with family members.

During this report, our office received additional reports of emergency “whistles” being utilized on the climbing route (climbing whistles are often used by climbers, hikers and SAR personnel to alert or find missing or lost people). It was at this time the Sheriff’s Office requested additional search support from the Volcano Rescue Team (VRT). The coordinator learned a group of 60 men and women from a singles group were scattered along the climbing route, Nelski being one of that group. A total of 9 members of the VRT responded to assist.

Goodwin and his group of three then came upon another climber with a knee injury. He assisted her down to the parking lot. According to reports a total of 10 -12 climbers had to be assisted or directed down to the Marble Mountain parking area. All climbers were off of the mountain by 1:00 am. The Uribe’s and their climbing partners made it off the mountain and back home without assistance.

“The climbers were extremely fortunate to have the MSH Institute Rangers, especially Mr. Goodwin on the mountain Saturday evening. This demonstrates the need to prepare for the unexpected,” said Undersheriff Pat Bond.