ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Denali National Park officials say two women who became disoriented Wednesday during a planned hike of Mount Healy were found by Air National Guard searchers early Thursday morning.
According to park spokesperson Kris Fister, Sybill Senn of Newberry, S.C. and Liza Weeks of Bellingham, Wash., both 22, were tired but uninjured when a Pavehawk helicopter found them at about 2:30 a.m. approximately five miles north of the mountain.
The women, both seasonal employees at the McKinley Chalets Resort in the Nenana Canyon outside the Park, were last seen at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bison Gulch trailhead on the Parks Highway, after telling friends they planned to hike the mountain.
Senn and Weeks brought some overnight gear, including a stove and sleeping bag, although they didn’t plan to camp. They became disoriented above the treeline in low clouds Wednesday morning, placing a 911 call via cellphone that initiated a search for them by 35 to 40 people, two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft.
The women remained where they were for most of the day Wednesday, as requested by authorities before their cellphone ran out of battery power, but weren’t seen by search aircraft. At about 6 p.m. Wednesday they began to descend one of Mount Healy’s northern drainages leading into Dry Creek, and had hiked about five miles through difficult terrain when they were found.
Fister says Senn and Weeks were near one of five “containment points” established by the Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department in the event that they decided to attempt a descent of the mountain.