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article imageStranded, Injured Climbers Rescued in Yosemite After Avalanche

By Sandy Sand     Feb 25, 2009 in Lifestyle
Seven experienced South Korean mountain climbers warmly welcomed a team of rescuers yesterday, who helicoptered them from Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in northern California after they were trapped in a avalanche.
One climber, Jun Ho Wang, broke his leg as he was preparing to ascend the face of Half Dome in an area known as Death Slab Approach when he was hit by a small avalanche on Monday.
Somehow Wang managed to stay on top of the tumbling snow, which carried him more than 100 yards down the mountain. His fellow climbers came to his aid, radioed for help and kept him warm until they were rescued, a park official said.
Park Ranger David Pope said continuing small avalanches prevented the rescue on Monday.
"A lot of the snow is melting, so it's triggering mini-avalanches," said Pope, a member of the rescue team.
He added that because the climbers are experienced and were well-prepared, they insured their own survival and successful rescue.
"These folks had the skill and the ability to survive," said Park Service spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman. "They were able to keep him warm. He was alert and responsive."
Freeman said they have climbers year-round, and the team from South Korea is planning to climb K2 in Pakistan. The adverse conditions of melt and refreeze at this time of year might have part of their training.
While melting snow caused small avalanches on Monday preventing their rescue, the snow refroze over night making the early Tuesday rescue possible. Just in the nick of time, too, because shortly after the team was taken off the mountain, the snow began to melt again, causing more small avalanches.
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