Honolulu Fire Helicopter Rescues 2

May 17--The Honolulu Fire Department's Air-1 helicopter rescued two hikers yesterday who were stranded on a ridge near the "Stairway to Heaven" trail that stretches from Kane'ohe District Park to the top of the Ko'olau Mountain range.

One of the hikers called just before 10 a.m. yesterday to say that the pair was uninjured but stranded on a ridge, unable to progress any further, Honolulu fire Capt. Earle Kealoha said.

The caller told dispatchers that he and a fellow hiker started their hike around 5:30 a.m.

Kealoha said the two men started from the bottom of "Stairway to Heaven," took off on a branch of the trail and were headed northwest toward H-3 when they became stranded.

The fire department's Air-1 helicopter flew in rescue specialists, who rappelled down to the hikers. Firefighters then used a harness to strap in each hiker and "sling-loaded" them one at a time down to the landing zone at Kaneohe District Park, Kealoha said.

The rescue took a little more than an hour.

The 3,922 rotting and creaking metal steps that comprised the old "Stairway to Heaven" were rebuilt in 2001. But the stairs remain closed to hikers because of concerns over potential injuries and liability.