GRANITE FALLS — During a 20-hour mission, a local search-and-rescue team found two hikers stranded in whiteout conditions Monday on Three Fingers mountain.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue unit was alerted around 11 a.m. on Sunday of the two hikers stuck 6,800 feet up the mountain. They couldn’t climb down due to heavy snow, according to the sheriff’s office.
The trailhead is about 16 miles northeast of Granite Falls. According to the Washington Trails Association, hikers first have to walk or mountain-bike up a washed out road. Upon reaching the actual trail, they then hike a couple miles to the meadows of Goat Flats and then up to Tin Can Gap. Hikers then must trudge along the ridge, over some rocks, across a glacier and through a snowfield.
The county’s helicopter rescue team was deployed with a five-member crew. It would have taken 12 hours to hike up, but the helicopter could drop rescue crews higher up the mountain. Low visibility due to weather delayed the flight up there. It was eventually launched around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, putting crews 4,900 feet up.
The helicopter also picked up members of a mountain rescue unit in Verlot, placing them at a 3,500-foot elevation.
The teams on the ground hiked for hours in heavy snow before they found the two hikers, according to the sheriff’s office. They helped them off the mountain.
The mission lasted until 7 a.m. Monday.
Assistance was provided by the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue, Everett Mountain Rescue Unit, the Helicopter Rescue Team, Operation Support Unit, a 4×4 team, Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue.
With conditions worsening, the road is now only accessible by 4×4, the sheriff’s office reported.
“The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit recommends people wait until next year to complete this hike and check weather conditions before leaving,” the office wrote in a press release. “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.”
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.