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Contact: Chuck Young, Chief Ranger, 360-569-6612
Mount Rainier Superintendent Randy King is pleased to announce that Supervisory Climbing Ranger Glenn Kessler and former Mount Rainier Seasonal Climbing Ranger Paul Charlton have been honored as recipients of the Department of Interior's Valor Award. The awards were presented by Secretary of the Interior Salazar this week at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. This award is in recognition of the actions that Kessler and Charlton took in rescues on Ingraham Glacier on June 6, 2002.
Here is the narrative of the award nomination:
On June 6, 2002, three individuals climbing the Ingraham Glacier on Mount Rainier wereseriously injured after a wind gust blew them off their feet, and they slid uncontrolled on hard icysnow for 150 feet before falling another 60 feet into a crevasse. National Park Service Rangers Paul Charlton and Glenn Kessler led a rescue team to the accident site, at an elevation of 11,800feet, where they directed and managed the extraction of the injured climbers. This involved the technical act of lowering personnel down a 60-foot narrow chasm of vertical ice onto a snowshelf where the climbers landed. The injured were then triaged and prepared for a rope lift out of the crevasse. After the crevasse extraction, they devised another rope system to lower the injured climbers hundreds of feet to a location where a helicopter could safely extract them. Due to their exceptional mountaineering abilities and skill, Rangers Charlton and Kessler safely managed this arduous and technically challenging rescue in subfreezing temperatures, at high altitude, and on treacherous and unforgiving terrain of ice and snow, saving the lives of three individuals.
While managing this rescue, Rangers Charlton and Kessler noticed that two climbers they encountered the previous day were missing from their camp tent, where they should have been, given their plan of summiting and returning to their tent the day before. Rangers Charlton and Kessler organized a search team and began a second ascent of the Ingraham Glacier to check the likely fall lines and crevasses in hopes of finding the climbers alive. They called another helicopter to assist in the search. Subsequently, the helicopter spotted two individuals, down on the slopes below a 100-foot ice cliff near an elevation of 12,400 feet on the Ingraham Glacier. With the helicopter unable to get a closer look at the climbers or the location, RangersCharlton and Kessler navigated uncharted and broken glacial terrain of steep ice and crevasses in windy and subfreezing temperatures to get there. Unfortunately, when they finally arrived at the base of the 100-foot ice cliff, they found the two climbers entangled in rope and deceased afteran obvious fall. For their extraordinary courage and heroic efforts, under extreme environmentaland physically challenging conditions, to rescue and save the lives of the three injured climbers,and to attempt to find and rescue the two missing climbers on Mount Rainier on June 6, 2002, Paul Charlton and Glenn Kessler are awarded the Valor Award for the Department of the Interior.
Chief Ranger Chuck Young stated "The work that park staff does day-to-day is amazing, shows great dedication, and often goes beyond the call of duty. Every so often, the work they do can be described as extraordinary--this is one of those times."