Five people were stranded Friday when poor weather prevented three planes from flying off Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park, Alaska State Troopers said. Officials eventually hired guides to lead the group to their nearest shelter at Sheldon Chalet, troopers wrote.
On Friday, the five people arrived at Ruth Glacier in a Cessna 180 and two Piper PA18 planes, troopers wrote in an online statement. The group was at an altitude of about 4,500 feet when inclement weather prevented them from flying out, troopers wrote, and so they spent Friday night on the glacier.
Ruth Glacier sits on the southeast side of Denali and is one of the largest glaciers in the national park. It’s a frequent destination for flightseeing tours. The top of the glacier is about 3 miles below the mountain’s summit.
The group requested a rescue Saturday morning “due to limited survival resources,” troopers wrote. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and National Park Service worked with troopers to make an “emergency hire of several guides to hike to the group,” troopers said.
“The guides and stranded group hiked to the Sheldon Chalet located approximately 3 ½ miles away. The group will shelter in place until the weather clears,” troopers wrote.
Sheldon Chalet is a small, luxury lodge located on a private inholding within the park, about 10 miles from the Denali summit. There’s a smaller structure nearby, the 212-square-foot Mountain House, which is also available for backcountry travelers. It was unclear Sunday which structure the travelers were led to. Officials from the Sheldon Chalet could not be immediately reached Sunday afternoon.
The group arrived at the site Saturday and were expected to shelter in place until the weather clears, troopers said. A winter storm warning was in effect throughout the park until 10 p.m. Sunday and the National Weather Service predicted heavy and blowing snow in the area. Travel will be very difficult or impossible, the weather service wrote.
A historic storm dropped record amounts of snow throughout Interior Alaska during the last few days, according to the weather service.
“The group is anticipated to retrieve and fly out their aircraft at a later time when it is safe to do so,” troopers wrote.