Avalanche near Haines claims skier, snowboarder

Craig Medred

Two men have died after being caught in an avalanche while skiing and snowboarding on a ridge about 30 miles from Haines. 

Ski guide Rob Liberman from Telluride, Colo., who only three years ago used an avalanche beacon to save the life of a Rocky Mountain skier, is dead because his avalanche beacon wasn't enough to save him in Alaska. Client Nick Dodov, a snowboarder from Truckee, Calif., was also wearing a beacon. He was rushed to a Seattle hospital after being dug out by a nearby group of skiers, but perished on Wednesday.

Liberman was a seasonal guide for Alaska Heliskiing. The two men are the first avalanche deaths in Alaska this winter. 

Troopers said Liberman and the other skier were in a group of six on a helicopter skiing excursion. Another group of skiers was apparently in the area when the avalanche hit and came to the aid of the two who were buried, according to troopers. Alaska state troopers said Liberman was dead when uncovered.

A long-time, 35-year-old skier, he had posted an Alaska Helisking guide profile saying "skiing has been a deep rooted love since early childhood. I  am grateful to my parents for allowing it to be a part of my upbringing. I ski raced through college at CU Boulder and absorbed as much as possible about all aspects of the sport in my four years, while studying biology and kinesiology. After graduating, I spent three endless winters traveling to South America and elsewhere, becoming further entrenched in the ski lifestyle.

"Alaska has always been the Mecca and after my first pilgrimage in 2005, I have been returning more appreciative and humbled each year. With a zeal for sharing the beauty, adventure, and fun of heli skiing, I continue to refine my skills and expand my shared experiences."

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com