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Two Idaho Climbers Safe After Mt. Dickey Avalanche

by Phillip Manning ~ May 12th, 2015

Mt. Dickey after Monday's avalanche.  Photo by T. Chenoweth - Denali National Park and Preserve

Mt. Dickey after Monday’s avalanche. Photo by T. Chenoweth – Denali National Park and Preserve

The National Park Service reports that two Idaho climbers have been rescued after an avalanche on Mt. Dickey, twelve miles southeast of Denali, in the Alaska Range.  According to a statement from Denali National Park, 27-year-old Saxon Spillman and 24-year-old Michael Wachs, were about 7,500 feet up on the mountain when the avalanche occurred on Monday evening, but neither was caught in the slide.  The pair attempted to climb down after the avalanche, but could not find a safe route.

Maureen Gualtieri, spokeswoman for Denali National Park, says the climbers signaled a local air taxi pilot by stomping an ‘SOS’ into the snow and waving their arms.  They also activated a GPS locator.  After mountaineering rangers spotted Spellman and Wachs from the air, a search and rescue helicopter was dispatched.  The rescue helicopter, piloted by veteran rescue pilot Andy Hermansky, was able to land on the mountain and pick up the two stranded climbers.

Photos taken by a ranger show that where Wachs and Spellman were was one of few safe places on the face of Mt. Dickey.

Park Service staff have reported an increase in avalanche activity in the Alaska Range following several feet of fresh snow and windy conditions.  Thus far, no major accidents have been reported in the Alaska Range for the 2015 climbing season.

3 Responses to Two Idaho Climbers Safe After Mt. Dickey Avalanche

  1. Samantha

    My boyfriend and his brother were in the plane that made the call for them to be rescued. They spotted the two men waving frantically and the sos stamped in the snow! They were actually about to catch a picture of it.

  2. Samantha

    They were actually able to catch a picture*

  3. Eric Forrest

    I’m so glad they were ok. Saxon is a pretty competent climber, I still find it difficult to think of a 27 y.o. man as an a adult when I still freshly remember changing his diapers. But I would like to correct this article, his name is Saxon Spillman. .. not Spellman. Thanks to who got these kids down safely.