Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Hiker lost on Riley retrieved


A 16-year-old hiker who became stranded Saturday while hiking on Mount Riley said steep terrain prevented her from backtracking along the route she came up.

Kaya Ramirez said she’d lost the hiking trail toward the summit of the 1,900-foot mountain but could see the top and decided to go forward. “I wasn’t following anything. I just went up.”

However, to go up she had to climb steep sections on her hands and knees, and she was afraid to try to go down the same way, she said. “It was really steep.”

Instead, Ramirez used a cell phone to reach family members. Troopers and a search party set out at 1:30 p.m. and family members located Ramirez at about 2:20 p.m., according to troopers.

Ramirez, who was not wearing snowshoes, said she followed the trail part way up the mountain and was able to walk on the crust of the snow at first. Farther up the mountain, however, she started punching through, filling her short rubber boots with ice.

At the time of her rescue, Ramirez had made her way to a trail marker at a spot from which she could see Pyramid Island.

Although some lost hikers have been found by location-tracking functions on their cell phones, Ramirez said that function didn’t work when she tried it Saturday. “The phone said, ‘Your location cannot be found.’”

State trooper Dru Neason said it’s possible that Ramirez’s phone was unable to connect to a second cell-phone tower, which is necessary for pinpointing location through triangulation.

Neason said Ramirez greatly aided the search by staying calm, paying attention to her surroundings and by following the instructions of rescuers.

Ramirez said her experience on the mountain was limited to hiking it in the summer. She was accompanied on the hike by her family’s golden retriever puppy, Lucy.

Several hikers have become lost on Mount Riley in the past two years. Neason said Saturday’s incident has generated discussion of improved trail markers there.


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