Hiker rescued after fall, injury near Liberty Bell

— An Olympia man was rescued from a mountainside near state Highway 20 on Saturday, Aug. 24, after he fell while climbing.

John Ewen, 53, and three other climbers were nearing the summit of the northernmost of the Early Winters Spires when he fell about 50 feet, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said. The site was just inside Chelan County and is near Liberty Bell Mountain.

Ewen suffered injuries to an ankle and thumb, and a laceration to his forehead in the 11 a.m. fall.

“Other climbers in the area witnessed the accident and luckily were able to utilize a radio to notify rescue personnel who happened to be working a standby for the Cutthroat Classic trail race on Cutthroat Pass,” Rogers said.

That foot race went from Rainy Pass to the Cutthroat Trailhead.

“Ewen’s climbing partners were well prepared and were able to treat the injuries quite well, splinting the ankle and thumb and bandaging his head,” Rogers said. “With the help of his climbing partners and a second group, Ewen was able to make his way down a couple rappel pitches to meet our rescue team.”

Deputy Ottis Buzzard, Okanogan County Search and Rescue high-angle team members, Outward Bound personnel and personnel from Aero Methow Rescue Service reached Ewen and the others about 3 p.m. and lowered him down two more pitches.

They carried him down about 500 feet to a suitable helicopter hoisting site. Medic Vikki Buzzard with Aero Methow took a better look at the injuries and improved the splints and bandaging, the sheriff said.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., the King County Sheriff’s Office rescue helicopter arrived and performed a heli hoist operation. Ewen was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

He was listed in satisfactory condition as of Monday afternoon.

Rescue personnel cleared the Blue Lake Trailhead around 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Rogers said deputy Buzzard “continues to be very impressed with King County’s crew on their helicopter.”

He said Saturday’s rescue was the third in a month, all in the same area. He said climbers were injured and airlifted out, but his office didn’t get any names or details.

“It was all handled by the medical personnel,” he said.


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