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Hiker gets rescued above Auke Rec

Gil Burnet located about an hour after initial call was made

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008

On July 10, Gil Burnet, 23, decided to visit an Alaska Power & Telephone construction crew working on a new communications facility above Auke Village Recreation Area. The new equipment, on Auk Mountain, will improve communication between Skagway, Haines and Juneau.

Burnet thought it would be a day hike, but on his way down, he became trapped in a steep ravine in the dark.

Burnet called Jason Spear, general manager of AP&T, on his cell to tell him he was stuck in a bad position.

Around 9:40 p.m., Spear contacted Alaska State Trooper Chris Umbs, who within minutes, assembled a search and rescue crew made up of Juneau Mountain Rescue, SEADOGS adn TEMSCO Helicopters.

By 10:45 p.m., JMR had located Burnet's general position on the cliffs above the road. By 11:15 p.m., TEMSCO's Mitch Horton, with Steve Lewis and Steve Handy, of JMR, were able to locate Burnet by searchlight.

The JMR team landed 700 feet above Burnet and began its descent through dense underbrush, heavy timber and steep inclines, reaching Burnet at 1:20 a.m.

After checking him for injuries, the rescue crew placed him on a climbing harness with a helmet to begin the descent.

"It was pretty steep," Lewis, director of JMR, said. "It took about 10 rappels to get down to Burnet and another 10 rappels to lower him down to Auk Flats.

From there, Lewis said it was another half-mile or so of muskeg and devil's club "and all sorts of other fun stuff" until they reached the highway.

The rescuers and Burnet reached the road by about 3 a.m. Friday.



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