- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Don Jardine and two climbing partners had spent days digging their tent out of deep snow and waiting for a chance to continue their bone-chilling expedition on Canada’s highest mountain.

They had given up and started down when the wind picked up, blowing away their tent and some gear. They spent three days trapped in a blizzard.

“It’s like you’re sticking your head out a car window going 65 miles an hour while someone is throwing rice at you,” Mr. Jardine said Saturday, hours after the hikers were rescued from Mount Logan, 25 miles east of the Alaskan border in the Yukon Territory.

Mr. Jardine, 51, Alex Snigurowicz, 45, and Erik Bjarnson, 41, were plucked from the 19,500-foot peak by rescuers from Alaska working with Canadian park officials. They were in an Anchorage hospital recovering from frostbite.

The three climbers set out May 4 on an eight-member expedition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the North Shore Search and Rescue team of North Vancouver.

They spent a week skiing up to King Col, a saddle ridge at the 13,500-foot level, basking in the warmth of clear weather.

Then the first storm came, stranding the climbers for five days. Each morning, they dug their tent out of deep snow and shivered in temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero, Mr. Jardine said.

When the sun came out again, the party resumed the climb. Eventually, the climbers reached 18,000 feet.

But at a plateau called Prospectors Col, temperatures dropped again, and the trip began to take its toll on the three men. They decided to turn around and begin their descent Wednesday as the other five expedition members continued on.

Before long, the wind kicked up again, so the trio camped out, hoping for better conditions. But the weather only worsened: “The wind actually lifted the tent floor with me on it,” Mr. Jardine said.

That night, the men burrowed into a snow cave. By Friday morning, they were suffering from hypothermia. The men kept in touch by radio with other members of the expedition.

On Friday morning, the other members of the party used a satellite phone to reach Tim Jones, a Vancouver climber who helped coordinate the rescue effort that included Canadian and Alaskan officials and the Alaska Air National Guard.

Late Friday night, a helicopter arrived. One at a time, the helicopter lowered the ailing climbers in a cage to a lower part of the mountain.

The other members of the expedition are continuing their climb.

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