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60-year-old Anchorage skier dies in Hatcher Pass avalanche

Update 10:30 a.m. Friday:

Alaska State Troopers on Friday identified the skier who died in Wednesday's avalanche in Hatcher Pass as 60-year-old Randall Bergt of Anchorage.

Two other skiers with Bergt avoided the slide.

Check back for updates.

Original story:

PALMER — One skier was killed and two more survived an avalanche on a Hatcher Pass backcountry ski run Wednesday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers say.

Palmer emergency crews, as well as troopers and state parks rangers responded to the avalanche report that first came in around 2:30 p.m.

Three skiers with beacons were descending when the snow broke loose, troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said. A male skier was caught in the avalanche while the others skied free.

"The other two skiers were able to locate the third skier with the beacon, get that person out of the snow and attempt CPR," DeSpain said. The life-saving attempts were not successful.

Confirmed avalanche fatality at Hatcher Pass today on Marmot Mountain at 3700' (President's Ridge Area). More information to come at www.hpavalanche.org Our hearts go out to family and friends.

Posted by Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A troopers helicopter flew over the scene and found the male skier but couldn't land, he said.

State parks rangers will conduct a body recovery Thursday when conditions should improve, according to Palmer Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Todd Russell.

Initial reports described the incident as occurring in the Paradise run area. DeSpain couldn't confirm the location, but said it was near Archangel Road.

According to the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center, the avalanche occurred on the President's Ridge area of Marmot Mountain at approximately 3,700 feet, on a southerly aspect.

The center warned in an update on its website early Thursday  that the avalanche hazard "would likely remain elevated" through the weekend.

Strong sustained winds early this week led to increased avalanche danger in the Talkeetna Mountains, according to the center.

"These winds built dangerous, sensitive, wind slabs at mid to upper elevations which continue to be an avalanche problem," the avalanche center said.

The center issued a "considerable" avalanche danger for terrain above 3,500 feet for Monday and Tuesday. That means dangerous avalanche conditions necessitating careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making "essential," according to the center's website.

"If you head into the backcountry this holiday and into the weekend, use extreme caution," the avalanche center said Thursday. "Dangerous avalanche conditions exist and human triggered avalanches are likely in specific areas."

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