Abby Sunderland was attempting to make history as the youngest woman to sail solo around the world when the elements simply became too much—rough seas and bad weather damaged her boat, stranding her in the Indian Ocean. Contact has been made with Abby and her rescue is imminent, but it’s a good reminder of the risk taken by search and rescue personnel at least several dozen times throughout the year, across the country, to pluck hapless hikers, skiers and adventurers from life-threatening situations. On Mt. Everest this year an expedition was forced to leave behind one hiker who was too sick to make the trek back down the mountain—he eventually died. Last year in the Grand Canyon three hikers used their GPS beacon, derisively called “yuppie 911” by many rescuers, several times for minor incidents and false alarms, forcing helicopters out to remote areas to check on their cries for help. When extreme adventurers need rescuing who should bear the financial and physical responsibilities?
Charlie Shimanski, president of the Mountain Rescue Association
Richard Weber, extreme Arctic adventurer and owner of Weber Arctic, guide and outfitting service in the Canadian Arctic