Sitka SAR team helps teenager stuck on cliff

A SAR team member helps a teenage boy retreat down a cliff face, after he became stuck during a climbing session, Saturday (Photo provided by Dave Miller)

Sitka’s Search and Rescue team helped a teenage boy who found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place during a climbing session over the weekend.

Sitka Fire Chief Dave Miller said the call came in on Saturday just before 5 p.m. about a young man stuck on a rock face just off Nelson Logging Road near the Starrigavan Estuary. 

“He was climbing up the face of this little rock, got about 25 feet or so up, and couldn’t go up, couldn’t come down,” Miller said. “So being the smart guy that he was, he called and asked for help, or his buddies did I think, and we responded out there with a rope rescue team.”

Five Search and Rescue members approached him from 20 feet above, lowered a team member down, and were able to get the teen to safety without the use of a basket. Miller said the teenager had good footing and was able to wait without too much stress while the team assembled their rope system.

“He had four or five friends there who were just giving him a good razzling or heckling for getting stuck,” said Miller. “Everybody was good, he wasn’t in dire danger. But he just couldn’t really move either.”

Typically the Search and Rescue ropes team practices frequently, but this year they haven’t been able to run regular drills.

“Since this whole COVID thing started they haven’t been able to train and everything, so it was a good training exercise too at the same time. It went really well,” said Miller. “The young man was very good, so he wasn’t too shook up about being up there, so there was no real big hurry. It was good.”

Miller said from start to finish, the rescue took around 45 minutes.