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Outdoors/Adventure

Weather delays search for Ketchikan man buried in avalanche

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: February 26, 2018
  • Published February 26, 2018

A 39-year-old Ketchikan man buried in an avalanche outside the Southeast Alaska city on Sunday is presumed dead, authorities say.

Marvin Scott and another man were snowboarding on Dude Mountain outside Ketchikan when a large avalanche let loose around noon, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch posted Monday. The slide buried Scott. Both men had avalanche beacons, and Scott's companion searched for him for an hour before hiking out to call for help.

Members of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad hoped to get to the area by helicopter but weather prevented them from flying, according to Jerry Kiffer, the squad's incident commander on the rescue.

Members snowmachined to the area Monday morning to recover Scott's body but avalanche danger and weather forced them to turn around.

The group encountered 50 mph winds and snow but also dug four snow pits and found snow conditions to be "extreme," said Chris John, part of the squad's management team. Rescue squad members were returning to Ketchikan mid-afternoon Monday.

"They went down the side of the chute and did what they could to get in the area," John said.

The squad will wait for better weather, which is expected by Thursday.

The slide, at about 2,000 feet above sea level, was in "fairly vertical conditions but then runs out into a large bowl," Kiffer said. The fairly remote area, which can't be accessed by road, is popular with experienced skiers and snowboarders.

The avalanche danger tends to be low around Ketchikan, but the risk rose at higher elevations due to new snow on top of an icy later created by several weeks of cold weather, he said.

Scott's next of kin were notified about the incident, troopers said.

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