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Backcountry Hiker With A Growing Reputation For Being Overdue Rescued In Glacier National Park


The backcountry of Glacier National Park is dramatically beautiful and appealing no matter what the season, but a Montana man who likes to challenge himself in it is developing a reputation for being overly ambitious, according to park officials.

A Montana man with a penchant for challenging himself in Glacier National Park's backcountry is developing a growing reputation with park rangers...for seemingly biting off more than he can chew.

Richard Layne's latest adventure in the park entailed a wintry trek from the Polebridge Ranger Station into the backcountry, past Bowman Lake, through Boulder Pass, past Kintla Lake, and out the Inside North Fork Road to Big Prairie, according a park release. The 59-year-old's trip started May 10th, and he planned to be picked up by his wife on May 20th.

Mr. Layne told his wife to contact park rangers if he had not surfaced by May 25th. And she did.

"Most of these areas are in still in winter condition with extreme hazards," park spokeswoman Ellen Blickhan said. "Due to an impending change in weather expected on Thursday, rangers contracted Minute Man Aviation to fly Layne’s route. From the helicopter, rangers spotted tracks in the snow going over Boulder Pass that were consistent with human travel.

"In the afternoon Layne was spotted near Upper Kintla Lake waving his red jacket at the helicopter. Rangers retrieved him and brought him out of the backcountry, uninjured but very tired," she said.

While these arduous snowshoe treks are not new for Mr. Layne, who carries backpacks weighing upwards of 100 pounds, they are not recommended by park officials due to their ambitious nature in challenging conditions, said Ms. Blickhan.

“This is not the first time that Layne has been reported overdue,” said Incident Commander Gary Moses. “We are very glad for the successful resolution of the search and that Mr. Layne was uninjured. While he nearly completed his intended trip, the number of days he was overdue, the route itself through extensive avalanche terrain, the approaching weather front, and his history prompted our immediate response upon notification from his wife.”


Do you know if Layne has to reimburse the NPS for any of the costs of this rescue?

No one has to pay for recue operations by the NPS anwhere, for any reason. This is policy and it is a good one.

what a waste of people and resourses,i disagree with MRC,he should have to pay for the cost of the rescue,this is like tha article said ,not the first time, it is really kind of bad when you have done this before,and then the possibility of your resucers getting hurt or killed looking for somesone that is so dumb to go out in that weather..he should be fined.

As regular readers know, the issue of whether people rescued in the national parks should be billed for search and rescue (SAR) costs has been discussed at great length in the Traveler. Perhaps the most compelling argument against charging for SAR costs is that such a policy would almost certainly create many situations in which people who get into bad trouble in the parks die or are seriously injured because they are unable or unwilling to pay SAR costs.


First, I don't believe anybody will make the decision to die rather than face paying a SAR fee sometime later.  On the otherhand, some people might be saved before the fact by not foolishly risking their lives knowing that they will face a SAR fee if they need help.

Few people in dire danger would knowingly choose to die rather than pay SAR fees.  However, lots of people in dangerous situations would, under the threat of hefty SAR fees, refuse to ask for (or accept) help when they really should. If you engage in very risky behavior in a desperate n attempt to avoid SAR fees, you are much more likely to die or be seriously injured. Of course, you might pull off a self-rescue, and that's why a person who refuses to pay SAR fees is not choosing to die instead.

But maybe Darwin was onto something.

The article didn't say he had been rescued before. It just says he's getting a reputation for "...for seemingly biting off more than he can chew." because he's been overdue before. 

Don't read into the article what isn't there.  The writer shouldn't have been so ambiguous and suggestive.

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