For Immediate Release:
June 3rd, 2021
Spokane County Rescue Crews Assist Skagit
County Missing Hiker Search
Volunteers from Spokane County Search & Rescue (SCSAR) responded on Saturday, May 29th, to aid in the search for a missing hiker in Skagit County. SCSAR is a volunteer, non-profit, search & rescue extension of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The search began on May 23rd, after a 66-year-old man from Mount Vernon didn’t return home from a solo day-hike of Hidden Lake Ridge near Marblemount. Local search & rescue crews had so far been unsuccessful in locating the man in very steep snow-covered terrain. This prompted the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and Skagit Mountain Rescue Unit to request help from additional search & rescue teams that possessed specialized training for the conditions.
Within SCSAR, are several specialty teams such as Inland Northwest Search & Rescue (INSAR). INSAR is the only search & rescue team in the Spokane region accredited by the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA), which involves regular proctored evaluations in rope rescue, avalanche rescue, and wilderness search. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office also manages the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU), who transported the Spokane County Search & Rescue team using the SRASU’s Rescue 3 helicopter.
The team left from Felts Field at 4:30 AM Saturday morning with 6 team members from SCSAR/INSAR, as well as 2 pilots and 1 crew chief from the SRASU. Once they arrived at their assigned search area, the Rescue 3 flight crew safely inserted the 6 searchers directly onto the ridge at an elevation of roughly 4,400 feet. From there, the team began searching 1,400 feet in elevation up the mountain slope on foot, while Rescue 3 simultaneously searched from the air, looking for any sign of the lost hiker. The search area was a pre-determined “high probability of detection” area based on the missing hiker’s point last seen.
Search & rescue members battled difficult conditions consisting of snow, ice, steep terrain, and ongoing avalanche risks. Team members paid special attention to avalanche paths and tree wells that the hiker may have been swept into, searching these deeper areas of snow for any sign of the missing individual. This was also complicated by 12 inches of fresh snow that had fallen Thursday and Friday. Rescue 3 returned to pick up the SCSAR team later in the afternoon, before the day’s sun had a chance to weaken the snowpack and cause any further avalanches. Unfortunately, the missing man was not located within the search area. Any further action will be determined by the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and local search teams.
Spokane County Search & Rescue is grateful for our valuable relationship with the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit that allowed this mission to happen. Utilizing Rescue 3 allowed rapid transport of our team from Spokane to the North Cascades Mountain Range, and the ability for our search team to be inserted in a remote area of a steep mountain that would have been both difficult and dangerous for SCSAR team members to access by foot.
For more information about Spokane County Search & Rescue, please visit our website at: https://www.spokanecounty.org/1757/Search-Rescue
Spokane County Search & Rescue (SCSAR): Volunteer, non-profit, search & rescue extension of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office has 1 full-time deputy assigned to oversee the search & rescue program.
Inland Northwest Search & Rescue (INSAR): Mountain rescue trained specialty team within Spokane County Search & Rescue.
Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU): Air support unit managed by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and staffed by personnel from various law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Includes the Air-1, Air-2, and Rescue 3 helicopters.