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On April 25, 2022, at approximately 6:00 pm, the Valdez Police Department was notified of a heliski helicopter en route to Valdez with an injured heliski guide. A preliminary investigation revealed by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers determined that 46-year-old Valdez resident Michael Hamilton was serving as a guide to a heliski party in the Thompson Pass/southern Chugach area. Hamilton was on the mountain scouting a run for the guests when he inadvertently triggered an avalanche that carried him approximately 1,500 feet down the mountain and over a steep cliff. Hamilton was able to deploy his avalanche airbag system and was equipped with appropriate avalanche mitigation equipment. The heliski helicopter rescued Hamilton who was unconscious when he was recovered and flew him to Valdez for advanced medical care. Despite the life-saving efforts of the heliski operation and medical staff in Valdez, Hamilton was declared deceased in Valdez. Next of kin have been notified.
Avalanche danger is elevated in the backcountry as Springtime temperatures cover much of Alaska. The Alaska State Trooper and Alaska Wildlife Troopers encourage anyone that is heliskiing, backcountry skiing, or snowmachining to use extreme caution. There have been a series of dangerous avalanches in the last week in Southcentral Alaska and the Copper River Basin. If you must be in the backcountry ensure that you have avalanche mitigation equipment such as a probe, avalanche beacon, avalanche airbag system, and shovel. Always carry a communication device that will work wherever you are going, and bring along clothing appropriate for the conditions. Always check weather and avalanche forecasting before you depart, and tell a trusted friend or family member where you are going and when you will be back.
Posted on 4/28/2022 10:04:15 AM by DPS\ajmcdaniel