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Contact: Maureen Gualtieri, (907) 733-9103
Contact: Sharon Stiteler, (907) 683-9583
Denali Park, AK – An avalanche killed Denali National Park and Preserve staff member Eric Walter while he was backcountry skiing on a north-facing slope near Mile 10 on the Park Road on Thursday, May 4.
Around 1 pm an individual reported to the park’s kennels staff that they observed a skier trigger an avalanche on an unnamed slope south of Jenny Creek and East of Savage River. The skier was alone when the incident occurred.
Denali rangers were dispatched and observed an unoccupied truck at the Mile 11 pullout. A ranger used a spotting scope to look for survivors in the area where the avalanche occurred. Two skis, one vertical, one lying flat on the surface, as well as an orange bag were observed in a debris field in the avalanche area.
The park’s mountaineering rangers were dispatched with the park’s contracted helicopter. The team members conducted a quick aerial reconnaissance of the area and then landed to configure for a short-haul operation. Two rangers with basic life support equipment were inserted via short-haul to the scene. Upon reaching the scene it was determined that the skier had died. The skier was later identified to be Eric.
"Our thoughts are with Eric's family in this challenging time," says Superintendent Brooke Merrell, "We are also incredibly grateful for the professional and compassionate response of our Talkeetna mountaineering team.”
Eric was a much-loved member of the Alaska Regional Communications Center (Denali Dispatch) and was known throughout the Alaska Region for providing radio-based safety support and dispatch services for National Park Service operations across Alaska.
Last updated: May 5, 2023