A Denali National Park and Preserve employee died when he was caught in an avalanche while skiing in the backcountry, not far from the park’s entrance, officials said Friday.
Eric Walter, who provides radio-based safety assistance and dispatch services for National Park Service activities throughout Alaska, died in the avalanche on Thursday, according to a prepared statement from the park.
An individual reported seeing a skier create an avalanche on an unidentified north-facing hill around 10 miles (16 kilometers) inside the park, near the park’s only road.
Responding rangers discovered an unattended truck about a mile from the avalanche site. A ranger searched for survivors in the avalanche rubble with a spotting scope.
The ranger saw two skis, one vertical and the other lying flat on the surface, the statement said.
The park’s mountaineering team, based in nearby Talkeetna, flew to the site on a contracted helicopter. Two rangers determined the skier, later identified as Walter, had died.
“Our thoughts are with Eric’s family in this challenging time,” Denali Superintendent Brooke Merrell said in the statement.
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