Dawson skier rescued after life threatening fall

A Dawson City cross-country skier was saved from near-certain death Monday after she tumbled about 20 metres over an embankment. 

A Dawson City cross-country skier was saved from near-certain death Monday after she tumbled about 20 metres over an embankment.

Rescuers from around Dawson worked together in the dark that evening to save her life. She was seriously injured but is now recovering in hospital and is expected to be OK.

Search-and-rescue volunteers were called at approximately 5:45 p.m. after the skier, who hasn’t been identified, hadn’t returned home in time for an appointment.

She’d gone out around 3:30 or 4 p.m. to ski on a trail just east of Moose Mountain Ski Hill, part-way up the Midnight Sun Dome Road, said John (Mitch) Mitchell, with Yukon Search and Rescue.

Trained search-and-rescue volunteers, RCMP, paramedics and the Dawson City Fire Department, along with a local contractor, all contributed to the happy ending.

Searchers in the area spotted the woman’s tracks and, using snowmobiles, were able to follow them to the edge of the embankment.

She had turned off the trail and gone into an unbroken area before tumbling 18 to 24 metres and ending up on the Klondike River, Mitchell said.

The last six metres of the fall would have been straight down.

For privacy reasons, Mitchell isn’t talking about the woman’s injuries other than to say she was badly hurt. He estimates that within an hour of getting the call rescuers were able to call down to her.

Getting to her was a more difficult feat.

She had managed to pick herself up after falling and walk a couple hundred metres along the river to try and get to safety, he said.

“Somehow, with her injuries she had managed to work her way down along the edge of the river without going through the ice or falling into the water.”

Eventually she fell down and couldn’t get enough traction on the ice to stand back up again, he said.

She was found lying on the north side of the Klondike River near Thomas Gulch, just outside of Dawson City, on a frozen dredge pond.

Rescuers decided the best way to reach her was to split up. Half would try to carefully make their way in the dark across the river from the other side. The others repelled down the side of the embankment.

The volunteers had just been trained in how to do these rope rescues last winter, Mitchell said.

Everyone was wearing headlamps to see, Mitchell said. The Dawson City Fire Department also brought in a truck with lights of its own.

The rescuers who first spotted the woman got to the top of the embankment using snowmobiles. The trip would have been more difficult for the vehicles carrying the rescue equipment if it were not for local contractor, Gerry Grenon, who cleared a road and a flat staging area with his plow so that emergency vehicles and rescuers could get closer to the scene.

Both rescue teams – the one from the river and the one from above – reached the woman at about the same time, Mitchell said.

She was lightly dressed for an afternoon of skiing. By the time rescuers got to her, she had stopped shivering – a dangerous sign for anyone suffering from hypothermia, Mitchell said.

“She wouldn’t have made it through the night. I think we’re talking hours here.”

But rescuers were able to start a fire and bundle the woman up to keep her warm.

They were able to find a route to safety from the ground, meaning she didn’t have to be hoisted up by rope.

“That’s pretty challenging… The tailing piles are deceptively difficult to move through. You’re running over this marble sort of, with water coming up in the depressions and thin ice and brush and stuff like that,” Mitchell said.

“It’s not a walk in the park by any means.”

Within 90 minutes of getting to her, the woman was in the back of an ambulance Mitchell said.

All the rescue operation’s moving parts had worked together and she was safe.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

The Boulevard of Hope was launched by the Yukon T1D Support Network and will be lit up throughout January. It is aimed at raising awareness about Yukoners living with Type 1 diabetes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Boulevard of Hope sheds light on Type 1 diabetes

Organizers hope to make it an annual event

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read