SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit and Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue spent 20 hours rescuing two hikers stranded in whiteout conditions on Three Fingers Mountain Monday morning.
Around 11 a.m. on Sunday, the rescue unit received an InReach Personal Locator Beacon SOS activation near the 6,800 feet mark on the mountain.
Two hikers were stranded after heavy snow and whiteout conditions made the trail too dangerous to climb down.
“You know, you look down and it’s the whole Snohomish Valley and it’s just a beautiful place,” said Einar Espeland with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Ground teams hiked for 12 hours attempting to get to the two hikers.
SnoHawk10 was launched to bring the team to a higher elevation but the weather forced the helicopter to abort the mission.
Hours later, SnoHawk10 has launched again, bringing the team to an elevation of 4,900 feet.
SnoHawk10 picked up the Everett Mountain Rescue Unit to assist, but could only take them to 3,500 feet due to worsening weather conditions.
The ground teams then hiked for several hours throughout the night in hazardous conditions and heavy snowfall.
“Even though it’s just a few inches of snow, it completely transforms the terrain,” said Yana Radenska with Everett Mountain Rescue. “There is very little margin for error and you can get cold very quickly. As we hiked up it just got snowier and icier. Definitely was windy.”
They were able to locate the two hikers and safely move them down the mountain, bringing them to safety at 7 a.m. Monday morning.
First responders say both hikers are very experienced and were able to hike down with rescuers to safety. Neither needed to be transported to the hospital.
Roads in and around Three Fingers Mountain are starting to deteriorate as more fall and winter storms move through.
Right now, the area is only accessible with 4x4 transportation.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is asking people to wait until next year to hike Three Fingers Mountain and check weather conditions before leaving.
As more snow falls in the area, it can take rescue workers at least a day to reach stranded hikers.
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