Worker in Alaska’s Denali National Park dies after triggering avalanche

Eric Walter, in an undated photo released by Denali National Park and Preserve, died as he was caught in an avalanche while skiing on a north-facing slope near Mile 10 on the Park Road Thursday in Denali Park, Alaska. (Denali National Park and Preserve/NPS Photo via AP)

Eric Walter provided radio-based safety support and dispatch services for U.S. National Park Service

A Denali National Park and Preserve employee died when he was caught in an avalanche while skiing in the backcountry, not far from the park’s entrance, officials said Friday.

Eric Walter, who provided radio-based safety support and dispatch services for National Park Service operations across Alaska, died in the Thursday avalanche, the park said in a prepared statement.

An individual told the park’s kennel staff that they saw a skier trigger an avalanche on an unnamed north-facing slope about 16 kilometres into the park, near the sprawling park’s only road.

Responding rangers found an unoccupied truck parked about a mile away from the avalanche site. A ranger used a  spotting scope to look for survivors in the avalanche debris.

The ranger saw two skis, one vertical and the other lying flat on the surface, the statement said.

The park’s mountaineering team, based in nearby Talkeetna, Alaska, flew to the site on a contracted helicopter. Two rangers determined the skier, later identified as Walter, had died.

“Our thoughts are with Eric’s family in this challenging time,” Denali Superintendent Brooke Merrell said in the statement.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Warm weather increases risk of avalanche in northwestern Canada, CBC News

Finland: Warnings in Lapland after fatal avalanche in Sweden, Yle News

Sweden: Avalanche warning to snowmobilers in Swedish mountains, Radio Sweden

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