AD Header Dropdowns

AD Main Menu

Soldier busted up after 1,000-foot Flattop Peak fall

Craig Medred

The most-climbed peak on the Anchorage skyline busted up another hiker on Saturday, according to the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Air National Guard.

Both troopers and the guard ended up involved in the rescue of 30-year-old Sebastian Rutkowski. A guard press release described him as a U.S. Army soldier who fell "more than 1,000 feet while hiking late Saturday evening." Another hiker who was on the mountain at the time said Rutkowski apparently started down a snow-filled couloir on the north side of the mountain, tumbled and then slid on the snow for a long way.

Troopers tried to get to him with their helicopter after the accident was reported, but they found it impossible to land. That led to a call to the Air Guard's 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons, which flies HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters with hoist capabilities. A pararescue man from the 212th reached Rutkowski and found him suffering with head injuries.

Two medically trained pararescuemen were eventually put on the ground to treat the injured hiker. They stabilized him and prepared him for a hoist into the helicopter, which promptly flew him to an Anchorage
hospital for treatment. The guard reported Rutkowski had "multiple head lacerations and bruising."

Flattop is a prominent peak in the Front Range Chugach Mountains above the state's largest city. A Chugach State Park trailhead and parking lot below the peak is so popular it regularly overflows on sunny summer days, of which Saturday was one. Hundreds of people have been known to assault Flat Top's 3,500-foot summit via a well-traveled but potentially dangerous trail on such days.

Serious falls are rare, but because of the volume of traffic up the mountain there have been more falls resulting in injuries or death on Flattop than on any other peak in the half-million-acre state park. A 48-year-old woman was airlifted off Flattop earlier this month after she slipped and broke her leg.

An elderly hiker was found dead after falling in 2006. There have been a number of other deaths and many injuries.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com