Forum Index > Pacific NW History > 1972 Index North Peak Rescue
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Schroder
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PostWed Feb 23, 2022 2:18 pm 
August 24, 1972, was a day I learned a few lessons – one of which was to keep my climbing gear ready to go in my car and take it along on any SAR activity. It was a warm, clear afternoon and I was in my street clothes searching the woods for evidence, along with Alderwood Search and Rescue, in the case of Jody Loomis. Jody had been a neighbor and a classmate of mine all the way through school and I was deeply affected by hearing it was her that was murdered the previous day in an area that is now Mill Creek. We were just wrapping up the scene when the deputy told us there was a rescue call and he asked me to ride with him in his patrol car to Snohomish airport. While in route I learned there was a seriously injured solo climber high up on the North Peak of Mt Index. A Whidbey NAS Sea Knight helicopter was just landing as we arrived. I had no gear with me and a few people from Snohomish SAR were just showing up, including Cliff Leight who had just joined the organization. I asked to borrow his boots and headlamp and I took off in the helo. We arrived at the peak just as the sun was setting and we spotted the climber below a small chimney on the upper North Face. The plan was to lower me to him on the cable, however when we got started it was obvious that the large rotor blades were going to prevent me from reaching the steep wall and I was hanging with a thousand feet of nothing below me. The pilot aborted and descended to Lake Serene and dropped me off with Doug Shaw from Alderwood, who was also on board. We climbed in the twilight to a bench on the wall, where we stopped and waited for help and equipment. With no ropes, gear, and boots that were 2 sizes too small for me I felt pretty helpless. Much to the dismay of my Everett Mountain Rescue (EMRU) colleagues, I recommended to the Sheriff that he call Seattle Mountain Rescue and have them bring their cable lowering system, since I thought we’d be doing an extended litter lowering on technical terrain. I had recently worked with Seattle MRC and knew the equipment well. He had the helo fly to Sand Point NAS to pick their team up while EMRU and the SAR teams came in on foot. The Seattle team was strong – Paul Williams, Al Errington, Warren Bleser, and Jeff Colehour, all of whom I had been in the field with before. They were dropped off at the lake and reached my location at about 1 am. The climber, Craig Keyes, was reached at 4 am after climbing under a full moon. Craig had slipped from a hand jam, fell 30 feet, and sustained cracked vertebrae, a broken leg, a crushed ankle, and other minor injuries. He had lain there for 3 days before his yelling got the attention of someone at the lake who went out for help. He survived only because of mild weather, a space blanket, and a brief shower which averted severe dehydration. With those injuries, it was possible to lower Craig on the back of a rescuer, simplifying the lowering. At the base of the wall we got Craig into a litter and carried him to the waiting helo at Lake Serene where he was then flown to a hospital in Seattle.

Anne Elk, day_hike_mike, Bronco, Sculpin, Riverside Laker, kite, zimmertr
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FiveNines
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PostWed Feb 23, 2022 3:24 pm 
Interesting historical rescue story. Appreciate your memories.
Schroder wrote:
in the case of Jody Loomis. Jody had been a neighbor and a classmate of mine all the way through school
Thanks for looking. Sorry for your loss. You probably knew Jody's murderer was arrested and convicted a few years ago. But just in case you hadn't heard.

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Schroder
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PostWed Feb 23, 2022 3:30 pm 
FiveNines wrote:
You probably knew Jody's murderer was arrested and convicted a few years ago. But just in case you hadn't heard.
Yes, I was at his arraignment and followed the trial online.

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Dick B
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PostWed Feb 23, 2022 4:50 pm 
Her's my SAR story. Back in the 70s I volunteered to be on the Deschutes County Search and Rescue. One day during the summer, a fellow volunteer, who was also an employee, and I were asked t lay out a map and compass course for a statewide sheriff's posse gathering being held in Redmond at the fairgrounds. A deputy transported us from Bend to the fairgrounds to find out what needed t be done. Upon arriving we were told that someone had already laid out the course and we were not needed. As we were being driven back to Bend the deputy received a coded call which prompted him to do a one eighty and drive back to Redmond. His only comment was "well we can put another one to bed" or words to that affect. He drove to the city police headquarters where he met with a couple of guys in the lobby. We still didn't have a clue as to what was going on. Another deputy came out and said he would drive us back. As we were leaving, another call came in that told the deputy that all hands were needed at a particular location on the Deschutes River out west of town. We were then told what our mission was going to be, which was t recover a dead body. That past December a man had slipped and fallen into the river at a place called Cline Falls. His body had not been recovered. it was just our luck that 2 fishermen had found the body while we were in the company of the Sheriff's Department. When we arrived, I could see that we were the only civilians present. The action taken required a diver to dislodge the body from some brush along the river, place it in a body bag and carry it by hand up a steep slope to the road so it could be taken to the funeral home. After everything was done, we were invited, along with all the deputies, to go have coffee. It never ceased to amaze me how casually these guys reacted to something I thought was rather traumatic.

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Schroder
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PostWed Feb 23, 2022 6:20 pm 
One thing you'll find among the teams is a lot of gallows humor, particularly in gorier situations, to deal with the stress. We had to really watch what was said with civilians within earshot.

ozzy
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Feb 24, 2022 8:55 am 
Nicely written, Randy. Are you doing a collection of writings of your experiences? If not, you should! Thanks for posting.

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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Stefan
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PostThu Feb 24, 2022 4:25 pm 
cool story Schroeder.

Art is an adventure.
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Chief Joseph
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PostThu Feb 24, 2022 5:10 pm 
Kim Brown wrote:
Nicely written, Randy. Are you doing a collection of writings of your experiences? If not, you should! Thanks for posting.
He should definitely write a book, I have read a couple on S&R but I am thinking his would be epic, he for sure has a wealth of knowledge as well.

Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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Schroder
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 8:22 am 
Kim Brown wrote:
Nicely written, Randy. Are you doing a collection of writings of your experiences? If not, you should!
I've just been trying to write them down as the memories resurface, before they disappear. No real concerted effort.

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Schroder
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 8:31 am 
A bit on Warren Bleser who was on this rescue. He was a teacher at Bothell High School and died the year after this rescue while climbing the Matterhorn with Neils Anderson, the head of the UW Climbing Course, who also perished. Alex Bertulis wrote this of Warren:
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WARREN T. BLESER 1938-1973 Warren T. Bleser was a 35-year-old Seattle high-school teacher, whose main objective and passion in life was mountain climbing. For over twenty years he had spent his summers climbing in practically every mountain area in North and South America. His accomplishments on major expeditions included the first ascent of the East Buttress of Mount McKinley in 1963, the first ascent of the south ridge of Foraker in 1968, the Catenary Ridge, a new route on Mount Logan, the ascent of Alpa- mayo Norte and an attempt on the south face of Chacraraju in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru in 1971. He was the person responsible for leading twenty-three Iowa Mountaineers to the summit of Huascaran in 1969. Recently he made the third ascent of the 2000-foot-high, 55° north face of Mount Robson, possibly North America’s most difficult sustained ice climb. His ascent was the first one under hard ice conditions. During the school year, most of his spare time was dedicated to teaching climbing and leading class climbs with University of Washington students, where he had been a climbing instructor since 1968. The north face of the Matterhorn epitomized the type of climb and mountain Bleser loved most. It seems very likely that he and Niels-Henrik Andersen had made it to the summit, despite the severe and freak storm that engulfed them, and that they died while descending under adverse conditions.
Warren was featured in one episode of Exploration Northwest:
https://www.donmccunelibrary.com/catalog/dvds/mt-rainier-climbs/

hikerbiker, dave allyn
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 9:13 am 
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Schroder
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 9:30 am 
Snowshovel wrote:
I remember this event involving Blesser also http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13197401702/Washington-Mount-Baker
Yes, this is the incident that shut down the UW Climbing school

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Snowshovel
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 9:44 am 
I remember that they had bolt ladders inside the round ramps at Husky Stadium. I’m sure vestiges are still there.

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Schroder
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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 9:49 am 
Snowshovel wrote:
I remember that they had bolt ladders inside the round ramps at Husky Stadium. I’m sure vestiges are still there.
That part of the stadium was torn down when they rebuilt it. The bolt runs predated the UW Climbing School

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PostFri Feb 25, 2022 10:10 am 
Great old photo. I didn’t realize the circular ramps are gone.

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