Search and Rescue of Overdue Hiker in Glacier National Park
Contact: Ellen Blickhan, 406 888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. –Officials at Glacier National Park were contacted by the wife of an overdue hiker on Wednesday morning, May 25, 2011. Richard Layne, 59 years old and from Helena, was issued his backcountry permit on May 10 and according to his permit would be hiking in remote sections of Glacier's North Fork and exiting on May 20. Layne and his wife had agreed that if he was not back by the 25th of May, she was to contact the park service.
Layne's ambitious itinerary began at the Polebridge Ranger Station into Bowman Lake, from Bowman Lake to Brown's Pass, through Hole-in-the-Wall and over Boulder Pass, exiting Kintla Lake and out the Inside North Fork Road to Big Prairie. Most of these areas are in winter conditions with extreme hazards.
Due to the impending change in weather expected on Thursday, rangers contracted Minute Man Aviation to fly Layne's route. From the helicopter, rangers spotted tracks in the snow going over Boulder Pass that were consistent with human travel. In the afternoon, Layne was spotted near Upper Kintla Lake waving his red jacket at the helicopter. Rangers retrieved Layne and brought him out of the backcountry, uninjured but very tired.
Layne has initiated many winter trips, snowshoeing, in Glacier National Park and carries a very heavy pack, up to 100 pounds. Although, he has done many winter trips, his permits are extremely ambitious, long in duration and are not recommended by the Park Service.
"This is not the first time that Layne has been reported overdue," said Gary Moses, the Incident Commander, "We are very glad for the successful resolution of the search and that Mr. Layne was uninjured. While he nearly completed his intended trip, the number of days he was overdue, the route itself through extensive avalanche terrain, the approaching weather front, and his history prompted our immediate response upon notification from his wife."
"We encourage hikers to select realistic itineraries and to not push the limits of their abilities. Factors such as this year's snowpack and high water should be weighed heavily when considering each trip. Choosing unrealistic itineraries may put searchers at risk and cause undue expense to the government," said Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright.