Kenai Peninsula residents rescued from Bear Glacier

  • Monday, April 11, 2016 10:20am
  • News


Update, 1:30 p.m.:

After being rescued from Bear Glacier where they had been stranded since Friday, Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna are at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.

“Both hikers were transported here,” said CPH spokesperson Camille Sorensen. “Chris was seen and refused treatment and Jenny is still being evaluated in the emergency department.”

In a release from the Alaska Air National Guard, both Neyman and Hanna were reported to be in good condition when they were picked up from the glacier Tuesday afternoon.


Update, 1 p.m.:

Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna have been rescued from Bear Glacier and taken to Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.

The Alaska Air National Guard confirmed that a Pave Hawk helicopter landed at on the glacier and picked up the hikers around 12:10 p.m. Tuesday.

“Pararescuemen who flew in on the (helicopter) immediately assessed the health of the survivors and loaded them onto the aircraft to be transported to medical care,” Lieutenant Colonel Candis Olmstead wrote in an update. “They were released to medical personnel at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna and are both reported to be in good condition.”

The pair spent four nights stuck on Bear Glacier on the Harding Icefield after poor weather conditions made their scheduled pickup after a day trip on Friday impossible. The Alaska Air National Guard sent a team of pararescuemen from the base of the glacier on foot to retrieve Neyman and Hanna at the snow cave they built after their tent was destroyed by the elements.


Update, 10:30 a.m.:

A group of four Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen are still moving toward the location of two hikers stranded on Bear Glacier on Tuesday morning.

The hikers — Jennifer Neyman, 36, and Christopher Hanna, 45, both of Soldotna — have been stranded on the glacier since Friday. The two were dropped off on the glacier by a pilot for what was intended to be a day hike, but worsening weather conditions prevented the pilot from coming back to pick them up. Friends alerted Alaska State Troopers when Neyman failed to make it to a gathering in Anchorage Saturday.

By 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, a helicopter crew had successfully spotted the hikers on the glacier, reporting that they could see the skis with which they had marked their snow cave, according to an update from Lieutenant Colonel Candis Olmstead.

“However, due to weather conditions, they were unable to land at the site,” Olmstead wrote in an email.

The helicopters have landed to refuel and will return to try to find a way to land and reach Neyman and Hanna. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center reported that it did receive a preloaded text that the two were okay earlier in the morning, Olmstead wrote.


Update, 10:25 p.m.:

Four Alaska Air National Guard pararescue members are about six and a half miles away from two stranded hikers on Bear Glacier.

According to an update from Lieutenant Colonel Candis Olmstead, the closest the rescuers could be dropped to Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna was 15 miles away from where the pair have been stuck on Bear Glacier since Saturday.

The pararescue crew has bedded down for the evening, according to the update, and will resume their hike Tuesday morning.

“The (rescue crew) hiked through inclement weather and challenging terrain at a steady incline and are close to the elevation they need to reach before hopefully leveling out for the remainder of the hike,” according to the update.

An Alaska Air National Guard aircraft dropped supplies including sleeping bags, food, fuel and a radio to Neyman and Hanna all in a lighted package, though it is not confirmed whether the two were able to reach them. The hikers were told not to take risks getting to the supplies, according to the update.

A guard aircraft departed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage to observe weather in the area of the stranded hikers overnight, according to the update.


Update, 4:45 p.m.

A ground team of pararescuemen have been dropped onto Bear Galcier north of where two hikers are located, according to an update from the Alaska Air National Guard. The pararescuemen are battling blowing snow and high winds as they cross the terrain Monday evening to reach Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna.

Aircrews are still unable to reach their location due to weather conditions, according to Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton.


Update, 1:15 p.m.:

A helicopter from the Alaska Air National Guard has landed at the base of Bear Glacier for the continued search of two Kenai Peninsula residents.

Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton said the weather cleared enough Monday for the 210th Rescue Squadron-flown helicopter, with four 212th Rescue Squadron members on board, to land near the hikers’ location.

“They are waiting for the weather to clear enough to fly up to the individuals’ location,” he said.

The rescue squadron members determined it will not be possible to reach the hikers on the ground.


Update, 12:30 p.m.:

The Alaska Air National Guard has joined the search for two Kenai Peninsula residents who have been stranded on Bear Glacier on the Harding Icefield since Saturday.

Two aircraft, including a helicopter with four members of the 212th Rescue Squadron on board, were launched by the Alaska Air National Guard Monday morning, according to a release.

Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna have been communicating with an InReach beacon, and are located on Bear Glacier at an elevation of about 4,300 feet, according to the release.

“The aircraft have been flying over the Harding Icefield area in an attempt to find a way to the location of the individuals, but have been unsuccessful so far due to weather conditions, which includes blowing snow and low cloud ceilings,” according to the release.

Alaska State Troopers Public Information Officer Megan Peters said the latest update she was given was also that rescuers are still trying to land.

Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton said having an InReach beacon or similar devise is essential and helps save time in search and rescue situations.

“One of the things that I definitely want to say is that it’s great that they had an InReach beacon,” he said. “… Because things can take a turn for the worse in a matter of moments in Alaska.”


Update 10:30 a.m.:

Rescuers have responded to the area of the Harding Icefield where two Kenai Peninsula residents have been stranded since Saturday.

Clam Gulch resident Sally Cassano, a close friend of Jennifer Neyman, said she has been in contact with a rescue coordinator during the search for Neyman and Christopher Hanna, who have been stuck at Bear Glacier due to bad weather.

The rescue coordinator has been in contact with the pair since the search started, Cassano said. The two were scheduled to be picked up after a day hike Friday, but their pilot was not able to do so because of poor weather conditions.

“They had received, at 8:45 (Monday morning), an ‘OK’ message coming from Chris and Jenny,” Cassano said of the rescue coordinators.

Cassano said she, family and friends grew concerned Saturday when it became apparent Neyman would not make it to a get together in Anchorage, at which point Cassano called the troopers. Neyman had planned the outing because she had been scheduled to leave on a several-month trip on Sunday, Cassano said.

Neyman and Hanna’s pilot had called the troopers on Friday, Cassano said.


Original story:

Jennifer Neyman, 36, and Christopher Hanna, 45, have been stuck on the Harding Icefield since Saturday after they were dropped off for a day hike on Friday. The search for them started up again Monday morning.

Alaska State Troopers got a report that the two were stranded on Bear Glacier around 4:20 p.m. Saturday, according to an online trooper dispatch. The pair were supposed to have been picked up by airplane Friday evening.

“The weather changed and the pilot was not able to pick them up,” troopers wrote in the dispatch. “Hanna and Neyman were able to communicate via cell phones and an InReach with a friend.”

The pair told their friend their tent had failed and that they were running low on supplies, troopers wrote.

Troopers in Seward got in touch with the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, “but due to weather they were not able to respond to the area,” troopers wrote in the dispatch.

The coordination center and a helicopter tried to respond Sunday, but the persisting bad weather made the attempt unsuccessful, according to the dispatch. By that point, the pair had sent another text that they were making a shelter.

The search for Hanna and Neyman is ongoing after the Rescue Coordination Center was able to fly into the area Monday morning.


– Staff Report




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