It's predicted 10,000-12,000 climbers will trying to summit Mt. Rainier this season. Only half make it all the way to the top, and tragically for a few, they get seriously injured or perish.
That's where the Chinook helicopter rescue crews of the Army Reserve come in. The Joint Base Lewis-McChord teams are the only ones capable of high altitude rescues in most any conditions.
Wednesday, they were training on dangerous sloping conditions -- the very kind they'll face when the call comes in for a real rescue.
Medical experts from Madigan Army Medical Center are joined by Air Force Paratroopers and Army Reserve helicopter crew members.
The idea is to get to the injured party in a hurry, establish a safe holding base, and then get the patient out of there as quickly as possible with Madigan only a 20-minute ride away.
Obviously it's a great help to have these rescue teams on Mt. Rainier and nearby mountains, but the real goal is training for high level combat.
"We have pilots operating in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, myself included, and it pays huge dividends to allow a pilot to see that environment before he's in it," said Chief Warrant Officer Richard Bovey.
That's why they say the $9,000 an hour cost to fly is worth whether for training or a real rescue. They need the experience, and they say it's the right thing to do.
"We all get a sense of accomplishment helping out our fellow people here in the United States," Bovey said.