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I Kept Warm by Burning Money: Climber Reveals How he Survived Two Days in Mountain Blizzard

Posted: Jan 19, 2012

A seasoned mountaineer, who was lost for two days in a snowstorm on a mountainside, told rescuers he survived by burning dollar bills and dreaming of a sauna, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday on its online edition.

Kim Yong-chun, 66, started a fire and first burned leaves - before resorting to the contents of his wallet and his socks.

The pensioner, from Tacoma, became stranded on Mount Rainier in Washington after becoming separated from a group who were also snowshoeing on Saturday.

Kim, who served in the South Korean military in the Vietnam War, told local station KOMO-TV that he had fire starters with him and first burned some leaves before turning to personal items.

The 66-year-old also kept moving to stay warm, took cover under a tree at night and dreamed of his wife and being in a sauna.

He was rescued yesterday but was in such good shape that there was no need for him to go to hospital.

An emergency team discovered Mr Kim in deep snow in a river valley after snowshoeing to find him. It took nine hours to bring him down from the remote spot because of the treacherous conditions.

Kim, who has been a U.S. citizen for 30 years, said: 'The rangers, they're good people. I love them.'

Rescue service spokeswoman Lee Taylor told the News Tribune newspaper that Kim was an experienced hiker, and had been alert, conscious and stable when he was found by the team of three.

Kim was reported missing on Saturday after he fell down a slope and became separated from his group in the highly-elevated Paradise region.

Snowshoe enthusiasts use specialized footgear that allows them to spread their weight over a larger area, which keeps them from sinking into deep snow.

It makes it possible to hike across huge drifts that would otherwise be inaccessible.

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

The 66-year-old was the leader of his group meaning the other less experienced members weren't able to accurately describe where he had slipped.

Mount Rainier has seen temperatures in the teens (minus 9 Celsius), and eight inches of new snow fell in some places over the weekend. 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.

His son Malcom An thanked rescuers.

He said: 'A terrible situation that could have ended in tragedy, instead turned into another beautiful example of how Americans come together to help each other.'

Kim's sister-in-law, Sang Soon Tomyn, told the Associated Press that 'as soon as we heard he was alive, my sister, his wife, praised God and said ''Hallelujah''. We were so worried. We prayed every day.'

She said her brother-in-law was a strong hiker, had food in his backpack and knew the area very well.

'He's a very strong person,' she added.

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