Last May a radiologist from Ogden, Utah, named Jason Lance, was on a bid to climb Alaska’s Denali. Somewhere within 1,000 feet of the summit, Lance abandoned his climb and began to descend, where he met up with other climbers who’d also began making their way down the mountain. One of those climbers fell 1,000 feet prompting Lance to call for assistance with a satellite communications device. A NPS helicopter successfully recovered the fallen climber, which, according to charges filed, seemed to prompt Lance to request an unnecessary separate rescue for himself and several other climbers heading down.

Lance immediately communicated to the satellite messenger’s comm service that his group had no injuries, but had lost some equipment in the earlier climber’s fall. The comm service told him to contact Denali NPS to advise. But when Lance did, the SAR team told him it was too late to fly anymore rescue missions that day and they should use ropes to descend as safely as possible. Lance then told the SAR team from NPS that the group he was with had climbers going into shock and descending into hypothermia.

The NPS was obligated to ferry them down the mountain via SAR helicopter, Lance said, because “we’ve paid our fee.”

With that, SAR launched a helicopter, only to discover en route Lance and his fellow climbers were descending on their own. The helicopter turned around. Once back at base camp, a law enforcement ranger interviewed Lance about the situation, and was surprised to see Lance refusing to hand over his communication device, then zipping himself in a tent where, it’s alleged, he tried to delete messages sent to the comm team contracted by the device maker, that likely indicated there were no injuries among his climbers. The people Lance suggested were in hypothermic and in shock have said they were fine.

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Lance, it appears, lied about the injuries just so he wouldn’t have to climb down the mountain. You can’t do that! You really, really can’t do that.

At one point, one of his fellow climbers said, they were trying to convince Lance to climb down. Nope, the NPS was obligated to ferry them down the mountain via SAR helicopter, Lance said, because “we’ve paid our fee.”

Lance faces three counts of interfering with and violating the order of a government employee and of filing a false report. He’s due to be arraigned on December 6.

More on the story, here.


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