(Alaska Air National Guard corrects name of site of rescue to Harding Icefield, instead of Bear Glacier)
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) - A pair of stranded hikers who took shelter in a snow cave on an ice field on the southern coast of Alaska were rescued on Tuesday, bringing an end to their four-day ordeal, officials said.
Snow storms created “white-on-white” conditions, thwarting previous attempts to reach the pair by air and prompting a ground crew to try to rescue them on foot, said Alaska Air National Guard spokesman Staff Sergeant Edward Eagerton.
On Tuesday, under clearer skies, a HH-60 Pave Hawk military helicopter landed on Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains and rescued the hikers in the remote Kenai Mountains, said guard spokeswoman Technical Sergeant Alicia Halla.
The hikers, Alaska residents Christopher Hanna, 45, and Jennifer Neyman, 36, were flown to a hospital in the nearby town of Soldotna where they will be evaluated, Halla said.
On Friday, the hikers were dropped off by airplane on the Harding Icefield for a day of hiking and skiing, according to the National Guard.
But their outing took a dangerous turn when the weather quickly worsened and their pilot was unable to land to pick them up, the National Guard said in a statement.
The hikers, who were experienced in the outdoors, stayed in touch with friends and emergency officials by using their cell phones and a satellite-based text messaging device.
After their tent came apart, they took cover in a snow cave, according to the National Guard.
Halla could not immediately say if the rescuers on the ground reached the hikers before the helicopter landed on the ice field to pick up the pair.
Editing by Alistair Bell and Andrew Hay