The victim was part of a group climbing a mountain Saturday while on a backcountry ski trip near Haines, Alaska, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The man sustained head and hand injuries in an attack.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the victim accidentally woke the brown bear in a cave, a mother who was likely protecting her cub.
“The skier who was attacked at one point realized that he should play dead, which is probably a good idea under the circumstances,” state wildlife biologist Carl Koch told CNN.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka Air Station located the man and two other skiers about 10 miles northwest of Haines at an altitude of 1,600 feet, the Coast Guard said.
A Coast Guard lifeguard was lowered to assess the man’s condition and then used a throw to lift the man to the helicopter. He was flown to Juneau for treatment.
The man was vigilant at the time of the rescue, but the Coast Guard had no further information on his condition. The other two skiers were able to give him first aid and contact the coast guard.
“Your satellite communication device provided the exact GPS coordinates and the altitude of your location,” said co-pilot Lt. Cmdr. Will Sirokman. “Just as important was that they had a brightly colored fabric to signal the helicopter when we were approaching. This was absolutely critical so that we could find them in time.”
The other two skiers didn’t need any help and, according to the coast guard, drove down the mountain alone.