A first-year guide was rescued after falling around 35 feet from a Chilkoot Lake waterfall during her day off on Saturday. She was medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she remains. The extent of her injuries is unknown.
A spokesperson from Harborview confirmed that the guide’s condition is satisfactory. As of Wednesday afternoon, she was in recovery after surgery.
On Saturday, the guide was enjoying some downtime at Chilkoot Lake. She and friends made their way via kayak to a waterfall and climbed up the rock face to the top. Eli Fierer is the general manager of Alaska Mountain Guides, the company the guide works for. He says he got the call that she had fallen just after 3 p.m.
“They scrambled up the second creek, it’s about a mile up the lake, on the east side of the lake,” says Fierer. “There’s a waterfall that’s about 300 yards from the lake, and about 600 or 700 vertical feet above the lake. They were scrambling up above the waterfall and she slipped at the top of the waterfall and fell down about 35 feet.”
A fellow guide that was with her climbed down, kayaked to access a radio, and called Fierer.
“He told me that one of our first-year guides had fallen and injured her hip. I didn’t have all the details, exact location, right away and so I, with enough information that it was across the lake, I called 911 and initiated EMS.”
Emergency Medical Services and Alaska State Parks responded to the call. Neither the Haines Borough Police Department nor Alaska State Troopers were on hand.
Chilkoot Lake Tours helped shuttle emergency personnel and rescuers to the scene.
“It was a little bit further up the drainage than we initially had expected from the initial communication,” Fierer says. “My first thought was ‘how to do we get this person out of here?’ And so, I was looking around and based on my experience working with helicopters, I felt confident that there was a place we could get a helicopter to touch down and get the patient out of there.”
Temsco Helicopters out of Skagway was put on standby, and cleared brush for a makeshift helipad near the site. Fierer says there were more than 15 people there helping.
“We were moving over a steep stream, rocky terrain, so it was hand-over-hand, moving slowly. It was about 50 yards from where she was to the helicopter landing area.”
The guide was taken by helicopter to the airport and then by ambulance to the Haines Health Center. There, they determined that her injuries would need to be taken care of in Seattle. Family members were notified from the Haines clinic and are there with her now at Harborview.
Fierer says he’s proud of the AMG crew, and grateful to all the support from various agencies and companies during the unfortunate incident.
“I was really proud of our team and how everybody did with the patient care and the support and the response. Travis Russell with State Parks was there and was a huge help, Chilkoot Lake Tours and the boat transfers, and Temsco was invaluable. And big thanks to the Haines Volunteer Fire Department, their professionalism, patient care and communication was top notch.”
AMG asked that KHNS respect the guide’s privacy by not publishing her name.