A guide for Ultima Thule Lodge in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve about 350 miles east of Anchorage has died in a skiing fall, according to the National Park Service.
Peter Inglis was on the cornice of a peak near 7,000 feet altitude southeast of the outpost community of Chitina on Wednesday when he either fell through or the cornice broke. A cornice is a comb of snow formed by the wind atop a ridge line.
Mark Keogh, a spokesman for the park service in Copper Center, said details on the accident remained sketchy Thursday. Rangers were at the scene of the accident investigating what happened. It is unclear if Inglis died in a fall or was buried in an avalanche of snow when the cornice gave way.
The park service reported that Paul Claus, owner of Ultima Thule and a well-known Alaska bush pilot, was able to land his single-engine, turbine Otter aircraft near the scene after the accident, reach Inglis and determine that he was dead.
Alaska State Troopers, who coordinate search-and-rescue operations in Alaska, were notified. They in turn asked the Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson for help, and it alerted the park service, which began a body recovery operation in the park, which abuts the border of Canada.
Inglis was from Telluride, Colorado, where he was a well-known guide, ski instructor and avalanche forecaster. He was highly experienced in the Alaska mountains, having worked as a guide for Mountain Trip and helped guide at least 15 climbs on Mount McKinley, the continent's tallest peak.
An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of pilot Paul Claus.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing