Skier dead after avalanche strikes in Hatcher Pass

A skier died in an avalanche Wednesday afternoon in Hatcher Pass, north of Palmer, according to Alaska State Troopers.

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Troopers had not released the man’s name as of about 5 p.m. Wednesday, because his family had not yet been notified.

The man’s death is the first avalanche fatality in Alaska this winter.

Troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said the man was part of a group of three skiing in the pass north of Archangel Road when a layer of snow broke loose and slid down the mountain.

“Two of the skiers were able to make it clear of the avalanche, and one skier was caught up in the avalanche,” DeSpain said.

All three were wearing locator beacons, and the two who were not buried found their friend and dug him out, DeSpain said.

“It was reported that they initiated CPR but were unsuccessful, and that the one skier was confirmed deceased,” DeSpain said.

Troopers, EMTs and state parks personnel responded, as did a Wildlife Trooper helicopter, but the chopper was unable to land near the man’s body.

Later, responders had to hike to the body to recover it, DeSpain said.

The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center categorized the avalanche danger as “considerable” on Monday, the last day the center issued a report. “Considerable” is the third highest level of danger out of five.