Hiker found unconscious, hypothermic near glacier

Posted: Friday, October 20, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A visiting hiker found unconscious and hypothermic near the Mendenhall Glacier was recovering Friday.

Robert Pace, 38, of Montana was found by another hiker Thursday after spending the night on a trail near the glacier on the outskirts of Juneau.

''The man was unconscious, shivering uncontrollably, wet and could not speak,'' said Division Chief Scott Chehock of Capital City Fire & Rescue. ''We are assuming that he became incapacitated from a previous medical condition and could not get down off the mountain.''

Pace was hospitalized overnight for treatment of hypothermia and dehydration, said Marijo Toner, regional affairs coordinator of Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Pace had been visiting friends who live near the glacier and hiking nearby trails for a few hours every day, Chehock said.

He went out about 10 a.m. Wednesday and was reported missing the following morning, Chehock said. Search and rescue teams were mustering for a search when another hiker found Pace about a mile and a half up the East Glacier Trail early Thursday afternoon.

The second hiker ran down the trail and encountered a woman with a cell phone who called for help, reaching Chehock.

''I told them what to do,'' Chehock said. ''They stripped him out of his clothes and bundled him up.''

Meanwhile, an eight-person rescue crew rushed up the trail with a wheeled litter. Two medics sprinted ahead to put warming pack and blankets on Pace. He never was able to communicate, although he could open his eyes, Chehock said.

''He is really a lucky guy. If he had not been found, it'1s a roll of the dice,'' Chehock said. ''He was wet and hypothermic, and you can't sustain life over a long period of time in that condition.''

The temperature in the area hovered around freezing Wednesday night, with some rain.

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