Alaska hikers saved in dramatic rescue on Harding Icefield

Alaska hikers

An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron was sent to retrieve the hikers. Photo: Courtesy of Defense Video and Distribution Systems

A week ago, two hikers in Alaska set out for what was meant to be a one-day hike.

Instead, they were stuck on a glacier for nearly five days because poor weather and bad lighting made it near impossible for a rescue helicopter to land.

The duo got stranded on the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Christopher Hanna and Jennifer Neyman brought a satellite beacon with texting capabilities which allowed rescuers from the Alaska Air National Guard to pinpoint their exact location, a move that saved them later down the line.

After Hanna and Neyman’s tent was buried in a snow blizzard, they built a snowcave that was about 7-by-5-feet wide and 3 or 4 feet high.

In order to breathe, they used a ski pole to poke a hole in the cave although rescuer Maj. Matthew Kirby said they didn’t have much longer in the cave.

Harding Icefield

Flat light made it impossible for the rescue helicopter to land which is why the couple spent four days on the Harding Icefield. Photo: Courtesy of Kat/ Flickr

“They were running out of pole,” he told The Alaska Dispatch News.

They also marked the cave with an orange blanket tied around a ski pole, another move that likely saved them.

Kirby said without that marking, rescuers likely wouldn’t have found them.

“It was such a huge expanse, even with that grid, digging under four feet of snow in a square mile, it would take forever to find them,” he said.

The hikers went to the hospital Tuesday and were released in good condition.

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