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Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Glacier National Park, Flathead County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Team and Kalispell Regional Medical Center's A.L.E.R.T. Air Ambulance responded to and rescued a couple of cross-country skiers that were lost and stranded overnight in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park.
Two individuals from Kalispell, a married couple, male age 46 and female age 39, sent a 911 message using a spot messenger device as they were lost and stranded in Glacier National Park. Flathead County Dispatch received the message at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday night indicating the message originated from a remote location approximately one mile north of the Akokala Creek Trail in the North Fork area of park, approximately six miles north of Polebridge. Park rangers were immediately notified and an incident team was organized. Due to bad weather, downed trees, difficult trail conditions, darkness and overall unsafe conditions for ground or aerial searches, it was determined that a response would need to take place early Sunday morning.
Sunday morning park rangers and members of the county's rescue team began traveling to find the couple via snowshoes and cross-country skis. As weather conditions allowed, A.L.E.R.T. flew the area and were able to identify tracks. The helicopter landed briefly and dispatched two crew members on the ground. The crew members reached the couple after hiking about one half mile and treated them on the scene. The helicopter then returned as weather cleared and retrieved the couple. They were transported to a landing area near the Polebridge Mercantile where park rangers met them and transported them to the Polebridge Ranger Station. The couple returned home via their own vehicle at approximately 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Saturday morning the couple traveled to the Polebridge Ranger Station, parked their vehicle and set out to ski to Bowman Lake and continued on the Akokala Creek Trail. They got off trail and were in the Parke Creek Drainage when they sent the emergency text message Saturday night.
Anyone recreating in the outdoors this winter is reminded to be prepared. Please have the appropriate equipment, clothing and skills, and please communicate to someone about where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and always be aware of avalanche conditions. For information about avalanche conditions in Northwest Montana visit Glacier Country Avalanche Center website at www.glacieravalanche.org.
Glacier National Park officials extend their appreciation to Flathead County and Kalispell Regional Medical Center for the assistance of the Mountain Rescue Team and A.L.E.R.T. Helicopter Crew.