Volunteers with the Volcano Rescue Team are looking for a less lively day today, after helping to get five people off of the mountain yesterday. In a Facebook post, the VRT reports that their day started early yesterday, when a call came in from the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office. Three climbers who had gone up the mountain on Tuesday had not returned to their car at the parking lot by yesterday morning. Six volunteers fanned out across the south side of the mountain, and they found the climbers by mid-afternoon. They were safely escorted back to their car.
One their way down the mountain, part of the team came upon an injured hiker, a man who had injured his ankle. They started helping this man get down the mountain when the team heard someone else yelling. The voice came from just west of the climbing trail; they followed the voice and found a man who had lost his way. They brought this man in and continued down the trail, then got word of another group that was unable to get across a creek bottom, off of the trail. Two VRT team members went back up the mountain, found these people, and then safely brought them down. While this was going on, another call came in about a climber who had lost the trail, went through the brush, and then came out onto the road west of the parking lot. That person was also guided back to safety. All of the mountain work was complete by 10 pm.
It’s thought that many of the people on the mountain at this time as using “glissade chutes,” trenches of snow that are used to slide down the mountain. The problem with this is that the chutes take people into the tress and away from the established trails. It was noted that most of the people rescued yesterday did NOT have the necessary equipment for navigating off of the trails. They recommend having and learning how to use a GPS, to help with off-trail navigation. They also say that a charged cell phone is extremely useful.