Alaska News

Bear hunter rescued from Thunder Mountain in Juneau

A Juneau bear hunter was rescued off Thunder Mountain by a U.S. Coast Guard crew from Sitka Thursday, after he went off trail and into dangerous terrain, Alaska State Troopers said.

Justin Rasmussen, 31, was bear hunting and looking for future hunting locations when he decided to leave the trail and "hike directly up the mountain," trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said.

"As he continued up the mountainside, the terrain became too steep and (had) too many loose rocks for him to continue," Peters said. Rasmussen called troopers from his cellphone at 12:41 p.m.

The Juneau Mountain Rescue group responded with a Temsco helicopter, but was unable to find a safe landing spot. They returned to the airport, where they collected more gear and additional rescuers, Peters said.

Four rescuers were able to land on the mountain and intended to climb down on ropes, but quickly determined the slope was too steep and the rocks were too loose.

"The main concern was rock falling on the victim," Peters said.

According to Peters, rescuers were also concerned about the amount of time it would take to recover Rasmussen, who was already out of water. At 5 p.m. the local rescue group determined they wouldn't be able to recover him.

That's when Sitka Coast Guard was called in. They were able to use their Jayhawk helicopter's hoisting ability to retrieve Rasmussen, according to Peters.