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.