The summer after the winter of the record snow has turned Anchorage's Flattop Mountain into the ideal place for Alaska tourists to maim themselves, according to officials with Chugach State Park.
Long the most-popular summit in the 49th state, the 3,510-foot peak named for its easily recognizable shape has over the years been the scene of many accidents. Winter avalanches killed one man and left another in a wheelchair. Falls on the descent of the rocky trail up the north face have killed several others.
And this year there is an especially deceptive attraction on Flattop -- an unusually large snowfield on the west side just off the main trail to the summit. The snow has been luring lots of people into sliding down. They usually do so unequipped for a safe glissade. The slides often end with injuries.
There is a safe way to slide down snowfields, be they on Flattop or elsewhere in the Chugach Mountains above the state's largest city. With an ice ax and the knowledge on how to use it -- (see video) -- glissading can be fun and injury free. Without the tools and the knowledge, though, it's a crap shoot.