Alaska News

Snowmachiner killed in Summit Lake avalanche

Fairbanks resident Russel Linzner, 38, was killed by an avalanche near Summit Lake in Interior Alaska Monday and his body was recovered on Tuesday by friends who had been snowmachining with him, according to search and rescue officials.

The man was reported to have been buried around 7:45 p.m. Monday, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. He and two friends were snowmachining in the mountains near Summit Lake, north of Paxson, when he was caught in the avalanche.

Alaska State Troopers, Fort Greely Fire and Rescue and the Eastern Alaska Avalanche Center responded to the search and rescue efforts on Tuesday, Peters said, before his body was recovered by friends.

"I understand that our volunteers are now on their way home and that the victim's body was recovered by members of his party today," wrote James Smith, an Eastern Alaska Range Avalanche Center volunteer, around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Troopers reported Tuesday afternoon that Linzner was buried beneath 5 to 7 feet of snow, close to his snowmachine. His body will be brought to the State Medical Examiner Office and his family has been told of his death, troopers said.

Avalanche conditions in the eastern Alaska Range are bad, said Debra McGhan, executive director of the Alaska Avalanche Information Center.

"We just have very, very unstable snowpack in that region," McGhan said.

The last avalanche forecast for the area on April 9 noted "considerable" avalanche danger, according to Smith. "These unstable conditions will not improve quickly," he wrote in an email.

A North Pole woman died in an avalanche April 3, also near Summit Lake. At the nearby Arctic Man snowmachining event last week, avalanche experts said they were seeing riders in dangerous terrain triggering avalanches.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.