Adventurer rescued from Yukon island

Briton develops frostbite during trek, is taken to Anchorage hospital

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ANCHORAGE - A British woman trying to walk around the world developed frostbite, and was rescued Sunday in blizzard-like conditions from her tent on a remote Yukon River island.

Rosie Swale-Pope, 59, was released Monday morning from an Anchorage hospital. Her current location was not immediately known, and an e-mail sent by The Associated Press to her son, who maintains her Web site, was not immediately answered.

Swale-Pope was rescued from Henry Island, more than 300 miles northeast of Anchorage, by an Alaska National Guard helicopter Sunday evening. All her equipment was being stored at the guard's Anchorage facility on Monday, and the guard said she has been in contact with them to retrieve it.

Swale-Pope has marine band radios, a GPS device and other modern conveniences, and contacted Alaska State Troopers on Saturday to report that she was treating herself for frostbite. Troopers called the Guard for help Sunday because she still hadn't been able to leave her camp site, Guard spokesman Maj. Mike Haller said.

Haller said conditions on the uninhabited island have been heinous for days, with freezing temperatures, deep snow and blizzard-like conditions.

The crew of a Pavehawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron battled horrific weather en route, and found Swale-Pope easily thanks to all the communications equipment she had with her, Haller said.

"Our search team found Rosie hunkered into her shelter on Henry Island," Haller said. "She was in good spirits and, to say the least, glad to have some company."

Swale-Pope started her quest to walk around the globe, and also raise money for various cancer and orphan charities, more than two years ago after her husband died of prostate cancer.

She left her home in England with nearly no money and few supplies.

Swale-Pope's journey has taken her across Europe, through Holland, Germany, Poland and Moscow and along the Trans Siberian Railway route. She flew from Russia to Alaska, where she was essentially walking a large part of the Iditarod trail backward.

"The run is getting very dangerous now," Swale-Pope wrote on her Web page before the rescue. "The temperatures are fluctuating between minus-60 at night to between minus-20 and plus-30 degrees during the day. I am still using all my cold-weather equipment which has and continues to keep me so safe."

After days wandering alone in the Alaska winter, earlier this month she likened stumbling upon villages to "seeing a port after days at sea but more so because at these temperatures nothing moves at all. Not a bird, not an animal, there are no people. Everything is so still. There is a more profound aloneness on land than there is at sea."

She had planned to continue through Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and England before reaching her home in Wales.

She has averaged between 10 and 25 miles a day, depending on how much weight is in her sled.

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