Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel await a kayaker who ended up in the water near the Mendenhall Glacier on Monday, May 13, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Capital City Fire/Rescue)

Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel await a kayaker who ended up in the water near the Mendenhall Glacier on Monday, May 13, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Capital City Fire/Rescue)

3 calls for help in 1 hour: Emergency responders busy at the glacier

Winds near glacier prove dangerous

Monday evening was an eventful one at the Mendenhall Glacier, as emergency personnel responded to three calls in the area in the span of about an hour.

At around 5 p.m., Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Tod Chambers said, a call came in reporting that a boater became stranded on the west side of the glacier after his raft had blown away. The call came from tour company Alaska Travel Adventures, Chambers said, and the tour company sent out its own skiff to get the stranded boater.

The boater wasn’t harmed, according to a post on CCFR’s Facebook page, and Chambers said ATA made it easy on CCFR responders.

“We’ve worked with them a couple times before and we’ve done a little bit of training with them too, so that’s starting to bear some fruit,” Chambers said. “They did a great job.”

A little before 6 p.m., another call came in that a woman had fallen on one of the trails near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Chambers said. An ambulance went to the visitor center but the woman didn’t need to be treated or taken to the hospital, Chambers said.

Just then, another call came in: a man’s kayak had flipped near the glacier. The ambulance at the visitor center was the first vehicle to the scene, Chambers said, but ATA and other kayakers in the area were already helping the man out. The two kayakers the man was with were holding him out of the water as much as possible, Chambers said.

[Meet the good Samaritan behind the dramatic Mendenhall Lake rescue]

CCFR personnel went out on ATA’s skiff, and the kayakers on the scene helped the man into the skiff. CCFR responders evaluated him on the skiff and took him to shore. He continued to be evaluated in the ambulance but didn’t need any further attention, per the CCFR statement on Facebook.

Chambers said the area near the glacier can be treacherous, and people should proceed there with caution.

“The afternoon winds there, after you get around the point, more toward the glacier, holy moly, they can stir up the water,” Chambers said. “The reports we had was that there were probably up to 2-foot waves out there and it just bowled him over.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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