Climbing accident rescuers honored

Posted: Friday, August 01, 1997

August 1, 1997

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Friday, August 1, 1997Climbing accident rescuers honored

Last modified at 1:59 p.m. on Friday, August 1, 1997


ANCHORAGE - The last time Ian Sharrock saw the people standing in Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom's conference room, they were half-conscious and bleeding, twisted in a heap of bodies and climbing gear.

This time, the victims of a June 29 mountain-climbing accident were walking, laughing and celebrating the people who rescued them after they slid down a steep chute on the side of Ptarmigan Peak.

Sharrock, Judd England and Chris Norgaard were first on the scene after members of the University of Alaska Anchorage mountaineering class fell while descending the 5,000-foot mountain in Chugach State Park.

``It's really cool,'' Sharrock said, looking at the crowd of survivors and rescuers packed into Mystrom's conference room at a Thursday awards ceremony.

``We don't know each other. But it helps a lot to say, `Hey, how's it going?' ''

The three young men stayed with the wounded for more than an hour before medical personnel arrived.

They were among more than 100 people honored for their rescue efforts Thursday. Those who helped included individuals and members or staffers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Alaska Air National Guard, Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Police Department, Anchorage Fire Department, Chugach State Park, Providence Alaska Medical Center, American Red Cross and ERA Aviation.

Mystrom handed out certificates of appreciation to members of nine different agencies who worked at the scene or behind the scenes to rescue the climbers.

Climbing instructor Deborah Greene, who was among those injured in the fall, presented each rescue group with a photograph of her class mounted on a plaque.

``Thank you for being there and putting in the hours and getting us down safely,'' Greene said, quieting the room and bringing some to tears.

UAA Chancellor Lee Gorsuch said after the ceremony that he was creating a panel of seven people from Alaska and Outside to review the university's mountaineering class and determine whether the school is doing everything it can to protect its students. The panel will be made up of mountaineering experts and people trained in risk management, he said.

``We live in a majestic state ... that has its inherent risks, so you train and educate yourself,'' Gorsuch told the gathering, adding that the university plays a role in that education. ``But accidents still happen.''

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