One person is dead after an avalanche struck a party of six skiers outside of Haines on Tuesday.
The avalanche was reported shortly after 11 a.m. Two of the skiers were apparently buried in the snow.
Tara Bicknell has this Wednesday morning update from Haines.
35-year-old Rob Liberman of Telluride, Colorado, was guiding a group of five skiers for Chilkat Valley company Alaska Heli-Ski when the avalanche occurred. It buried him and 26-year old Nickolai Dodov of Trukee, California.
Liberman is confirmed dead and Dodov was on life support at the Haines clinic Tuesday afternoon, awaiting transport to Harborview hospital in Seattle.
The avalanche occurred on Takhin Ridge, about 20 air miles northwest of Haines, and near a helipad used by skiers at mile 33 on the Haines Highway. One of the two men, who were buried about seven feet under the fallen snow, was skiing as a client with one of the area’s heliski companies. The other, was skiing as a guide.
“They were able to get them out of the snow and one was transported back to 33 mile, the other was transported to the Haines Clinic, and we have one confirmed fatality,” Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz says.
The remaining ski party located the two missing men using avalanche beacon equipment. Other organizations, including the heli-ski company, skiers in the area, local fire departments, Troopers, and State Parks, helped transport the two men.
The surviving victim is being transported to Seattle. No other injuries were reported in the accident and all skiers are accounted for.
According to the Alaska Avalanche Information Center, Alaska has had the second highest number of avalanche fatalities since 1950, behind Colorado.
Tuesday evening story:
- By the end of the century, researchers predict climate change could displace millions of people across the country. As policymakers start to grapple with that reality, there's a specific phrase making the rounds: "managed retreat."
- The U.S. Coast Guard has cleaned up controversial graffiti that was found spray-painted on a World War II bunker in Unalaska last month.
- The Haines Borough Assembly sought a new direction Tuesday night over stability in its choice for the borough’s top municipal job. One of two finalists, Debra Schnabel was selected as Haines’ new borough manager, pending contract negotiations. Both candidates were local.
- Efforts by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker to try and force legislators to consider his appointments to boards, commissions and key administration posts were rebuffed Thursday in a joint session.