The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office initiated search efforts early Monday morning for two overdue climbers.
The Sheriff’s dispatch center received information from Tigard Police that two men, Lei Chen 60 years of age, and Tianyi Zhai 61 years of age were overdue from climbing Mt. St. Helens on Sunday. The two were reported to have limited climbing experience and were not prepared for overnight conditions. A Skamania County deputy responded to the Marble Mt. snow park and located the overdues vehicle.
A search effort was initiated at approximately 2am this morning utilizing members of the Volcano Rescue Team out of Yacolt. Cell phone date and locating was not available as the phones had been turned off.
VRT members worked up to the 5000-foot level on the mountain early this morning and reported favorable weather conditions for helicopter assets. A helicopter from JL aviation was called to assist. At approximately 8am, the overdue subjects activated their cell phone and contacted the Skamania County dispatch center. The dispatcher was able to instruct the overdue subjects to make themselves visible from the air. A short time later the helicopter made visual contact with the subjects.
VRT members were then able to trek to the location utilizing GPS coordinates and located both subjects. One of the overdue subjects was reportedly suffering from mild hypothermia. Both subjects were able to walk to a landing area where they were picked up by helicopter and flown to the Marble Mt. snow park.
Subjects were examined by medical personnel and departed in their own vehicle.