Yong Chun Kim, trapped in mountain blizzard, burns money, socks to stay alive


SEATTLE – Bear Grylls eat your heart out.

The snow storm that’s gripped Seattle and the Pacific Northwest may be causing headaches for travellers in the area, but one man’s story of burning his money to survive a mountain blizzard takes the cake for ingenuity and survival.

Yong Chun Kim, 66, of Tacoma, said he was trapped in a two-day blizzard at Washington state’s Mt. Rainier and had to dig a snow tunnel and burn dollar bills for warmth, the Associated Press reported

Having brought a lighter with him, among other emergency supplies, Kim resorted to burning extra socks, Band-Aids and a toothbrush for heat. The last things he lit of fire before being eventually rescued were $1 and $5 bills from his wallet.

"I'm a lucky man, a really lucky man," he said to reporters.

Kim was leading 16 members of a hiking club from Tacoma back down the Mountain when he fell 150 feet away from his group.

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The Seattle Times reported

“Using his walkie-talkie, he told the group members he was OK and told them to keep moving back to the parking lot. He knew they would seek help. For more than two days, the Tacoma man walked in circles in search of the way back to safety. He huddled in tree wells, sang "Amazing Grace" in Korean, ducked into a snow cave and slept a few fleeting minutes at a time. He dreamed of his wife, Sue, and relaxing in a hot sauna.”

"I didn't know what was west, what was east, what was north, because I couldn't see," Kim said.

His survival methods also included sleeping 5 to 10 minutes at a time out of fear he would die from hypothermia if he stopped moving. More than two and a half feet of snow accumulated during the two days.

His survival tactics lasted him enough time until rescuers found Kim around 2 p.m local time Monday.

His recent ordeal wasn’t enough to stave off future trips to the mountain for the former cancer patient, however. He said he believes the mountain air is why he is cancer free.

"Maybe a week off, then I'll go again," Kim said Tuesday. "It's better than golf; that's too much stress. Hiking isn't as much money, just lunch and $10 in gas."

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