published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Mount Rainier hiker glad he had 'money to burn'

Remember the expression about people who spend as though they have "money to burn"?

Well, that came to mind with a little news story in Wednesday's Times Free Press about a 66-year-old man named Yong Chun Kim, who got lost in a blizzard on Mount Rainier in the state of Washington.

Kim was in serious trouble. He had become separated from members of the hiking club he was leading. Then he went the wrong way in his attempt to reconnect with them, and he wound up lost. In a subsequent fall, he lost his radio, a glove and a ski pole.

But despite the cold and the heavy snow, he kept his wits about him. He dug a snow tunnel, and he exercised as best he could for warmth. He also ate rice and chocolate, and drank hot water -- and he prayed. To fuel a fire, he first burned leaves, then personal items such as spare socks, Band-Aids and so forth.

But ultimately, he realized he would need to make a bit of a financial sacrifice, too, in order to keep warm: He burned the cash from his wallet -- later pointing out that it provided a more useful fire than the other items had.

It was not clear from news accounts exactly how much money he burned, but he said his final $6 went up in smoke last Sunday night.

Kim was found after an intensive search -- a bit poorer but fortunately not much worse for wear.

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