Two experienced hikers were rescued on Three Fingers mountain on Monday, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.
The hikers were stranded because of a storm that caused whiteout conditions and heavy snow, making the trail too treacherous for them to continue climbing down, the Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.
The 20-hour overnight rescue started around 11 a.m. Sunday, when Search and Rescue received notice from an InReach Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) SOS that was activated near 6,800 feet, the Sheriff’s Office said.
A crew was able to locate the two hikers and safely move them down the mountain, located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, bringing them to safety at 7 a.m. Monday.
Rescue helicopter SnoHawk10 was launched to take the rescue team to a higher elevation, but weather prevented that. Hours later, SnoHawk10 was able to pick up the Everett Mountain Rescue Unit but could only get them to 3,500 feet due to worsening weather.
“The road conditions in this area are deteriorating and it is currently only accessible by 4×4,” the Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.
Ground teams hiked for several hours throughout the night in hazardous conditions and heavy snowfall.
“Even though it’s just a few inches of snow, it completely transforms the terrain,” said Yana Radenska with Everett Mountain Rescue. “There is very little margin for error and you can get cold very quickly. As we hiked up it just got snowier and icier. Definitely was windy.”
Assistance was provided by Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue, Everett Mountain Rescue Unit, Helicopter Rescue Team, Operation Support Unit, SCVSAR 4×4 Team, Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue.
The Sheriff’s Office recommends waiting until next year to complete this hike, and checking weather conditions before leaving.
“In the event of an injury or emergency on the mountain, it is estimated to take rescue crews at least a day to be able to access the location due to the current conditions,” the office said.