Missing Snowshoe Hiker Yong Chun Kim Found Alive on Mount Rainier

By ABC News

Jan 16, 2012 8:00pm

ABC News’ Beth Loyd and Michael S. James report:

A trio of rescuers today found, snowshoer Yong Chun Kim alert and conscious after he went missing Saturday during a hike on Mount Rainier in Washington state.

“As soon as we heard he was alive, my sister, his wife, praised God and said ‘Hallelujah’,” Kim’s sister-in-law, Sang Soon Tomyn told The Associated Press after learning from relatives that Kim had been found. “We were so worried. We prayed every day.”

Kim, 66, was cold but otherwise in stable condition, park spokeswoman Lee Taylor told the AP, adding that rescuers were trying to send in a Sno-Cat vehicle to complete the rescue amid weather too harsh for helicopters.

A team of  more than 70 people and two teams of rescue dogs earlier had narrowed their search for Kim, of Tacoma, Wash., officials told ABC News.

Kim was leading hikers in the Paradise region of Mount Rainier National Park when he slipped down a steep slope.

Instead of climbing back up to rejoin the group, Kim continued on to meet the group further down the trail.  When he did not arrive 30 minutes after he radioed the group to tell them he was on his way, the park service launched a search.

Taylor told ABC News that one of the members of Kim’s group went along on Sunday’s search and took the team to the point where Kim was last seen.  One of the searchers also on Sunday noticed snowshoe tracks in an area called Stevens Creek, which was where the rescue team then focused its search.

Rescuers then found Kim in the upper Stevens Creek basin, Taylor later told The Associated Press.

The search was hampered by severe weather conditions, including temperatures as low as 10 degrees and snow and wind that have prevented a helicopter from joining the search. The weather was expected to worsen Tuesday.

“Time is not on your side in a situation like this,” Taylor said before the rescue.  “Every day that goes by, it lessens the chance of finding him alive.”

Kim was an experienced snowshoer who visited Mount Rainier nearly every weekend.

However, Taylor said, he was not equipped to stay overnight in the blizzard conditions and was thought only to have enough food to survive the first night.

“The determining factor is team due diligence,” Taylor said. “We want to make sure that we’ve looked everywhere that we can.”

The search for Kim was the second one in Mount Rainier Park in less than two weeks.  A manhunt was launched earlier this month to find Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, after he shot and killed park ranger Margaret Anderson on New Year’s Day.

The body of Barnes, an Iraq war veteran, was found the next day, drowned in a creek after suffering from hypothermia.

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