Multiple agencies rescue Palmer climber impaled with ice ax
A Palmer woman fell while hiking Pioneer Peak on Tuesday, lodging an ice ax into her back and prompting a rescue by multiple agencies.
In an online dispatch, Alaska State Troopers (AST) stated 23-year-old Shawnee Whitehorse was climbing with a partner at 9:44 p.m. Tuesday when she fell and, “had an ice axe (sic) lodged in her back.”
AST stated Whitehorse’s climbing partner, 46-year-old Lisa Pierimarchi, said the younger woman couldn’t move and needed immediate help to get off the mountain as temperatures had begun to drop. Pierimarchi was able to provide GPS coordinates to responders, which aided in the rescue, troopers said.
Whitehorse told KTVA that the incident happened while the two were descending the peak.
“Basically what happened was we were close to being down, but I was carrying the ice pick in my backpack and when I slipped backwards it went in my back,” she said in a written exchange.
Then, Whitehorse said, Pierimarchi pulled the ice ax out.
“Lisa pulled it out on the spot and I’m glad she did because it would have just hurt more,” she said.
The Butte Fire Department dispatched paramedics, who hiked up to the climbers. The dispatch states steep terrain and elevation caused rescuers to call on the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, which had a crew available for immediate launch.
“We were at 6,400 feet and it was really painful,” Whitehorse wrote. “I couldn’t even move.”
With the assistance of paramedics, the Alaska Air National Guard hoisted Whitehorse off the mountain and took her to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center for care.
Troopers thanked Palmer dispatch, Butte paramedics and the Alaska Air National Guard 176th Wing — including the 210th, 211th and 212th rescue squadrons — for their expedited response to the incident.
Whitehorse said she was still having issues moving and walking, but she was given some medication for the pain.
“I should be better soon,” she said. “Just want to add that I want to thank the troopers, the air guard, paramedics and hospital staff for all the amazing work they do.”
KTVA’s Shannon Ballard contributed to this report.
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