Rescuers reach lost skier on Hurricane Hill

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014 5:30pm
  • News

Park rangers reached Randy Kraxberger at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30, at the summit of Hurricane Hill after skiing several miles through three to four feet of fresh powder snow.

Kraxberger spent Saturday night in a snow cave on the slopes of Hurricane Hill after becoming disoriented in blizzard conditions while skiing. Despite his unplanned overnight stay, he is in good condition and after some food, skied back to Hurricane Ridge accompanied by his rescuers.

When rangers spoke with Kraxberger by cell phone the morning of the Dec. 30, he was able to provide additional details about his surroundings. Rangers gave him instructions to make a large "X" in the snow using his skis and tree branches in order to make his location more obvious to ground searchers or a possible rescue helicopter.

In addition to six rescuers on skis, a Coast Guard helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles had joined the search after weather and visibility briefly improved.

Kraxberger, 53, is from Port Townsend. Known to be experienced in the outdoors and physically fit, he became disoriented in the Hurricane Hill area during Saturday’s high winds, heavy snow and poor visibility.

Twelve rescuers searched until about midnight, primarily along the Hurricane Hill Road, using whistles, lights and sirens in attempt to attract Kraxberger to safety. Two rescuers tried to ski beyond the road’s end onto the Hurricane Hill route but were

turned back due to blizzard conditions and hazardous avalanche conditions on the slopes.

About a dozen park staff, 10 volunteers from Bremerton-based Olympic Mountain Rescue, employees of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club and personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles participated in the search and rescue

effort.

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