Denali National Park employee killed in backcountry skiing avalanche
DENALI NATIONAL PARK, Alaska (KTUU) - A staff member who worked in Denali National Park and Preserve died Thursday while backcountry skiing within the park.
The park announced that 32-year-old Eric Walter was found dead Thursday afternoon by park rangers, who were alerted to an avalanche slide on an unnamed slope near mile 10 of the park road that reaches over 90 miles into the rugged wilderness.
It was the first death in the park this season, officials said.
A spokesperson said Walter was skiing alone when the avalanche was triggered on the north-facing slope that stands to the south of Jenny Creek and east of the Savage River.
An unnamed person reported the slide around 1 p.m. to the Denali Park kennels staff, which sent out rangers to mile 11 of the road, where they found an unoccupied truck at a pullout. Rangers used a spotting scope to find the snow slide, where they noticed a pair of skis and an orange bag in the debris field.
The park dispatched a helicopter to the slide area, where they hoisted down two park rangers with life support equipment.
“Upon reaching the scene it was determined that the skier had died,” the statement read. “The skier was later identified to be Eric.”
The park said that Walter was a “much-loved member” of the Alaska Regional Communications Center, which provides radio-based safety support services to National Park Service operation statewide.
“Our thoughts are with Eric’s family in this challenging time,” Denali National Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell said in the statement. “We are also incredibly grateful for the professional and compassionate response of our Talkeetna mountaineering team.”
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