JMR on ice

Local rescue group completes training amid the elements atop the Mendenhall Glacier

While a week of dry weather had dulled the memory, last Saturday’s morning forecast called for upper thirties and rain. Also scheduled on that grey day was the Juneau Mountain Rescue’s monthly field training.


The team met at 7 a.m. for a briefing and gear check. This month’s day-long session focused on helicopter transport guidelines, glacier travel, ice anchors and their inclusion in lowering and raising systems.

A quick Temsco flight brought the JMR team to the fractured landscape of the lower Mendenhall Glacier, where the morning session for some included ice anchor creation and concerns, and the rigging of basic systems using various anchoring options. Another group rigged rescue-rated systems that were then employed in scenario-based climber rescues.

Lunch was a quick affair in the drizzle and chill of the exposed ice structures.

The afternoon session built on the morning’s lessons with variations on patient rescue and transport. Some systems were moved or re-rigged, and team members rotated in their roles as new evolutions began.

There were more ideas and concepts to investigate than time allowed, and the gear was quickly broken down in time for the quick flight back down to Temsco. The tedium of drying, organizing and repacking gear was ahead but the next few minutes could be enjoyed from the rain streaked windows of the transport helicopters.

• JMR is a volunteer, nonprofit, educational corporation dedicated to providing technical search and rescue, outdoor rescue, and safety training for the Southeast Alaska regional area, as well as nationally and globally as needed. For more information about Juneau Mountain Rescue, go online to or find them on Facebook at


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