A paraglider who was stuck among the treetops on Mount Roberts on Sunday was rescued without suffering an injury worse than a sunburn.
“It was hot up there,” said Kaitlin Ray, who was sunburned but otherwise unharmed after her parachute became tangled between two trees Sunday evening. “But, it’s better than being cold.”
Ray, who is a frequent paraglider and has lived in Juneau each of the past eight summers, said she greatly appreciated the efforts of rescuers, who included Everybody’s Tree Service owner Talon Lobaugh and Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel.
“She was great,” said CCFR Assistant Chief Travis Mead of Ray. “She was a trooper.”
Lobaugh, who regularly does work for Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, and Mead estimated Ray was suspended over 60 feet in the air.
Emergency responders were alerted to the situation by one of Ray’s fellow paragliders. Ray said she was paragliding from the top of Mount Roberts with friends. When paragliding, Ray said she and friends stay in radio contact because accidents do happen. One of the friends was able to call 911 from the air just after 6:30 p.m., Mead said.
Responders then called Lobaugh who was able to make it to the scene about an hour after the initial call. He and Mead described the site of the stranding as about 15 minutes off the Mount Roberts trail and relatively near the tramway’s nature center.
“Luckily, it was very close to the tram, to the building,” Mead said. “We were able to stand there and look up and see her.”
He said the tram and its employees were a huge asset to the rescue and generally extremely helpful for accessing high-use but potentially perilous areas on the mountain.
Once on the scene, Lobaugh was tasked with reaching the stranded paraglider.
“I ended up having to go really slow through the branches in the canopy,” Lobaugh said.
After reaching the stranded paraglider, she was secured, given fluids for dehydration and attached to a CCFR system so she could safely descend.
Mead and Lobaugh said they were back to the ground by about 11 p.m., and Lobaugh was also able to remove the tangled parachute from the treetops.
Mead said while it was an atypical trail rescue and a fairly technical operation, it was relatively straightforward.
Also, due to a quick call, lack of injury and the weather, Mead said it went about as well as it could.
“It was textbook,” Mead said. “It was perfect. She wasn’t injured. “It was a great rescue.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.