Groups survive close calls with avalanches

Posted: Monday, March 03, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two groups of skiers survived avalanches Saturday in Hatcher Pass.

One slide partly buried a skier who fell as he descended Microdot Mountain with five others in Independence Mine State Park, said Pat Murphy, an Alaska State Parks ranger.

The skier, a 46-year-old man, plunged 1,000 feet down the mountain and over a cliff in the river of snow, Murphy said. When he stopped, he was buried up to his neck with one arm sticking out.

Others in the party and members of the Nordic Ski Club skiing nearby dug him out. Alaska State Troopers, Matanuska-Susitna Borough medics and parks staffers also responded.

A Lifeguard helicopter flew the victim to Alaska Regional Hospital about two hours later.

The other avalanche involved six backcountry skiers on Government Peak.

The group was ascending when the lead skier triggered an avalanche. He jammed his ski poles into the snow and was able to stop, uninjured, after sliding about 150 feet, Murphy said.

The group turned around and headed out, he said.

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