A heliski guide caught in an avalanche over the weekend near Haines died late Monday according to a statement posted online by his family.
Aaron Karitis was guiding a group of skiers with Haines heliskiing company Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, or SEABA, on Saturday. According to the statement, which was corroborated by SEABA, he had dug a snow pit to test snow conditions and cut the top of slope to sample stability and determined conditions were safe. Karitis skied down a slope to set a track, while his clients waited on the top. An avalanche was triggered, carrying him about approximately 700 feet and burying him in several feet of snow.
Fellow guides found Karitis within 15 minutes thanks to a locator beacon he was wearing. He was unresponsive and CPR was started. He was transported to the Haines clinic then flown to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage.
The statement from his family and medical team says Karitis’ core body temperature was critically low when he arrived at Providence. He had inhaled snow, compromising oxygen flow to his brain.
Karitis is originally from Bend, Oregon and has been active in heliskiing for more than a decade. His experience includes extensive avalanche education, according to SEABA and his family.