A professor of outdoor studies at the University of Alaska Southeast was mauled by a bear on Monday, bringing a mountaineering class trip to an early conclusion.
One of the 11 students on the trip rushed to the bottom of the mountain in a search for cell service. Police then arranged for the entire class to be evacuated by helicopter.
The victim of the attack, Forrest Wagner, 35, is now in stable condition at a hospital in Anchorage with leg injuries.
Wagner has taught outdoor courses at the university for a decade, including ice climbing, rock climbing, crevasse rescuing and mountaineering. He is also a graduate student in northern studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Fellow professor Kevin Krein commended Wagner and his students for the way they handled the situation.
“They applied their medical and wilderness training, worked together, and responded effectively. I am very proud of them,” he told the Washington Post.
Last month, nine students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks were caught in an avalanche during a different mountaineering class. Although all survived, the accident has caused some to question the safety of the school’s mountaineering program.
Recent warm weather in Alaska has led to an uptick in bear movement, leading Governor Bill Walker to declare April “Bear Awareness Month.”
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