Snowmachiners rescued from Talkeetna Mountains


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Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued three snowmachiners stranded in the Talkeetna Mountains on Feb. 25.

Four snowmachiners had set out for a ride in the Talkeetna Mountains when they became stuck, according to Lt. Col. John Morse, deputy director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

One of the snowmachiners left to get help while the others waited.

The snowmachiners, fearing their friend was lost or hurt, were able to communicate with the Alaska State Troopers via cellphone and noted that they did not have any survival gear or means to start a fire, explained Morse.

“They were cold, wet and tired,” said Morse, “and one of them was running out of meds.”

Alaska State Troopers were unable to perform the rescue and contacted the Alaska RCC. The Alaska Air National Guard accepted the mission around 6 p.m. Feb. 25.

The Troopers were unable to perform the rescue mission due to darkness, Morse said.

The Alaska Air National Guard responded by launching an HC-130 King aircraft and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, each with a team of Guardian Angel rescue personnel from the 212th Rescue Squadron, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The teams flew to the area and were able to find the stranded snowmachiners who were communicating via cellphone, Morse said.

Because of the rugged terrain, the HH-60 crew had to hoist the three snowmachiners into the Pave Hawk and then flew them back to Talkeetna, where they were released to the AST, declining medical treatment.

The fourth snowmachiner was able to return on his own.

“It’s important to always be prepared for an overnight stay,” Morse said. “You should always have a backpack with extra food, medications and a signal device. It’s always a great idea to take a 406 personal locator beacon, even for a short trip of a few hours, and always, always leave a trip plan with somebody.”

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