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Alaska News

2 rescued from Wrangell-St. Elias park plane crash; separate climbing group on glacier rescued Tuesday

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. (National Park Service photo)

Update, 7 p.m. Tuesday: A group of mountaineers stranded on Klutlan Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park was rescued just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Alaska Army National Guard.

They had reportedly been suffering from altitude sickness and cold-related injuries on the glacier in the Mount Bona area, in the northeast area of the park.

Original story:

After days of being held off by weather, two New York state men were rescued early Monday from a mountainous plane crash site in the remote reaches of Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

Rescuers are still trying to reach a separate mountaineering party stranded on Klutlan Glacier, also within Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the park service said in a statement Monday.

The two men rescued, pilot James Feola, 62, of Cassville, N.Y., and Frederick Northup, 62, of Fairfield, N.Y., were “cold but had only minor injuries” when rescuers with the Air National Guard Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and National Park Service reached them at about 2 a.m. on Monday near Mount Hawkins.

Feola and Northup left Talkeetna to fly to Yakutat in a Cessna 182 airplane Friday morning at 10:30 a.m., according to the statement. An emergency beacon coming from the Mount Hawkins area pinged at 1:35 p.m. on Friday.

Rescuers — already responding to the unrelated mountaineering rescue on Mount Bona — tried to reach the men Saturday, but never made it to the crash site because of bad weather including snow at higher elevations. A rescue team on a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter finally made it to the men at 2 a.m. on Monday. They have been taken to an Anchorage hospital for treatment.

Federal crash investigators haven’t been able to speak with the men yet to learn more about what caused the crash, but hope to in the next day or so, said Clint Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board. The crash site was in a rugged, remote area, Johnson said.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts continued Monday evening for three mountaineers suffering from altitude sickness and cold-related injuries on the Klutlan Glacier, in the Mount Bona area, in the northeast area of the park. The mountaineers are part of a group guided by St. Elias Alpine Guides of McCarthy, according to the park service. St. Elias Alpine Guides didn’t immediately respond to questions.

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