Alaska News

Man mauled by bear while backcountry skiing in Southeast Alaska, Coast Guard says

A man was mauled by a bear while skiing Saturday afternoon about 10 miles northwest of Haines, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The man was backcountry skiing with two other people on a mountain on the south side of Chilkoot Lake, said Joe Wineke, command center watchstander for District 17 of the Coast Guard. The man was injured on his face and hands, the Coast Guard said in an online statement.

It was not immediately clear what kind of bear it was or what triggered the attack. Bears normally hibernate during the winter, but according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, animals in the Southeast part of the state hibernate for a shorter period of time than bears in the north. Bears in warmer regions along the coast might hibernate between 2 to 5 months, the department said.

The Alaska State Troopers requested help from the Coast Guard around 3:20 p.m., the statement said. Wineke said the skiers carried a satellite communication device with them that allowed them to call for help and provide their exact location. The skiers were also wearing brightly colored clothing, which helped the crew to find them, the Coast Guard wrote.

“The other two members in the patient’s skiing party had the proper equipment and knowledge to assist with his injuries and communicate for help in 15 degree temperatures with sunset approaching,” said Lt. Cmdr. Will Sirokman, co-pilot for the case.

A five-person crew from Sitka arrived in the area in a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and lowered a crew member down to evaluate the injured skier and then hoist him into the helicopter, the statement said.

The rescue crew provided medical care for the man as they transported him to Juneau, where he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, the Coast Guard wrote. The other two skiers did not need assistance and continued down the mountain on their own, according to Coast Guard.

The man’s condition was not immediately clear, but the Coast Guard said he was alert and talking when he was rescued.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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