NATIONAL NEWS

Denali National Park worker dies after triggering avalanche

May 5, 2023, 11:31 AM | Updated: 12:04 pm

DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, Alaska (AP) — 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 provided radio-based safety support and dispatch services for National Park Service operations across Alaska, died in the Thursday avalanche, the park said in a prepared statement.

An individual told the park’s kennel staff that they saw a skier trigger an avalanche on an unnamed north-facing slope about 10 miles (16 kilometers) into the park, near the sprawling park’s only road.

Responding rangers found an unoccupied truck parked about a mile away from the avalanche site. A ranger used a spotting scope to look for survivors in the avalanche debris.

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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Denali National Park worker dies after triggering avalanche