Dehydrated goat hunters rescued from ridge

A goat looks at a group of hikers on Blackerby Ridge in 2014. (Photo by Mary Catharine Martin)

Two goat hunters, dehydrated after their water supply froze, were rescued from Blackerby Ridge by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter Tuesday evening.


The men, ages 22 and 24, called USCG watchstanders in Juneau on a handheld VHF radio at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, stating they were not prepared to stay out past sundown and were experiencing signs of dehydration. The men, who the Coast Guard didn’t name, were experiencing dizziness and cramping, according to USCG spokesperson Charly Hengen, who spoke with the Empire by phone Wednesday.

“According to the report coming from the men, they were having signs of dehydration and were having trouble making it off the trail themselves,” Hengen said, “So they did utilize the handheld radio they had.”

The men were above the tree line near Blackerby Ridge Trail. They had reported that their water had frozen, robbing them of their water supply for the hike down. They told watchstanders that trees in the area were frozen, making it difficult for the men to build a fire.

USCG notes that they do not believe the men were lost. They were prepared with an emergency blanket, head lamp and a backpack.

USCG responders notified Alaska State Troopers of the situation, who advised USCG send a helicopter to rescue the men from Air Station Sitka. It would have taken Juneau Mountain Rescue around two hours to locate the men.

Blackerby Ridge Trail is steep and unmarked. It takes between two and five hours to hike to the top.

“That’s why Juneau Mountain Rescue didn’t go in. It was faster to get there from the helicopter,” Hengen said.

USCG dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk to the hunters. Watchstanders kept contact with the men while their rescue was en route.

The men were located at 11:04 p.m. north of Salmon Creek Reservoir, about two and a half miles from Glacier Highway, according to coordinates provided to the Empire.

A rescue swimmer was lowered from the helicopter in the rescue basket and hoisted both men into the helicopter. They were transported to Juneau National Guard hangar at 11:45 p.m., where they were treated by Capital City Fire/Rescue for symptoms of mild hypothermia.

USCG operations specialist Heather Goralczyk said the men were saved by their radio.

“We encourage all persons, whether hunting or hiking, to ensure they are fully equipped with appropriate safety and survival equipment when venturing into the Alaskan outdoors,” Goralczyk said.


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