SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


USCG releases more about hiker's daring rescue


March 16, 2006

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter rescue crew conducted a daring rescue of a climber trapped on a 9,077-foot mountain known as Devil's Thumb north of Petersburg, Alaska.


Zack Hoyt, a 30-year-old hiker from Idaho requested help when weather conditions worsened and he became trapped during his descent from the peak of Devil's Thumb. A Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter rescue crew and a Sitka mountain search and rescue crew rushed to his last reported position after severe wind gusts forced a Temsco helicopter crew to turn back from an earlier attempt.

The crew, conducting a visual search of Hoyt's last known location received a report by radio from Hoyt , who could hear but not see the helicopter. Hoyt instructed them to search for a yellow tent.

Upon locating it, the crew instructed Hoyt to prepare for a basket hoist. Due to frostbitten hands and feet, Hoyt was unable to don his boots. Weather conditions were deteriorating rapidly. 

When the crew instructed Hoyt that he had one opportunity for extraction, he quickly climbed into the basket without his boots.The rescue was conducted in poor visibility, low ceilings, blowing snow, sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, and minus 30 degrees C (-22 F) temperatures. He was safely transported to Petersburg Medical Clinic. 

Hoyt had completed the 1st successful solo winter summit of Devils Thumb earlier in the week. During his descent to Thomas Bay via Baird Glacier earlier in the day, Hoyt fell into a 100-foot crevasse but managed to climb out using only crampons and a ice axe.


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Ketchikan, Alaska