Rescued snowshoer burned money to stay warm

ASHFORD, Wash. -- A 66-year-old snowshoer who had been missing on Mount Rainier since Saturday said he stayed warm by running in place and even burning the money in his wallet before he was found by searchers on Monday.

Despite spending two nights in the freezing weather, officials said Yong Chun Kim was in such good shape that medics released him to his family after he was brought off the mountain.

"I feel pretty good," Kim said while enjoying a cup of hot coffee at a ranger station late Monday.

Kim, of Tacoma, said he took cover under a tree at night and dreamed of his wife and a nice hot sauna.

He had some fire starters with him and burned leaves to try to keep warm. He eventually moved on to burning personal items, including his socks and then $1 and $5 dollar bills in his wallet.

Kim was reported missing on Saturday after he fell down a slope and became separated from a group he was leading in the Paradise area.

Kim, who has been snowshoeing for a decade, was well equipped for a day trip but didn't have overnight gear.

Because Kim was the leader of his group, other snowshoers weren't able to accurately describe where he had slipped, Taylor said. Searchers had initially believed Kim fell in a different area, based on descriptions from the group, National Park spokeswoman Lee Taylor said.

Taylor said he was in a remote area with deep snow. Mount Rainier has seen temperatures in the teens, and eight inches of new snow fell in some places since Saturday. Wind-blown snow drifts were as high as 30 inches in some areas.

Bad weather prevented a helicopter rescue, so crews used a Sno-Cat snow vehicle to reach the area where Kim was. Then "searchers had to snowshoe up the river valley to reach him, load him into a kind of a litter that could be slid across the snow, sort of a sled, bring him back down and get him back into the Sno-Cat and bring the Sno-Cat back out to the road," Taylor said.

After being checked out by medics on Monday night, Kim thanked all the people who helped in the rescue effort.

"The Rangers, they're good people," he said. "I love them."