NPS Worker Dies While Skiing in Denali

Witness says Eric Walter triggered avalanche in Alaska preserve
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2023 9:30 AM CDT

A National Park Service staffer died last week in Denali National Park & Preserve, in an avalanche he himself may have triggered. In a Friday statement cited by CBS News, the NPS reports that Eric Walter was killed Thursday while taking part in some backcountry skiing on a "north-facing slope," about 10 miles deep in the park. A witness called in the avalanche around 1pm local time, noting they'd seen a solo skiier trigger the snow slide. Park rangers were dispatched, and one with a spotting scope saw an orange bag in the avalanche debris, as well as two skis: "one vertical, one lying flat on the surface," per the release.

An empty truck was also found about a mile from the avalanche site. The Denali park's mountaineering division flew in by helicopter, and "upon reaching the scene it was determined that the skier had died." The deceased was later identified as Walter, who was part of the Alaska Regional Communications Center, for which he provided "radio-based safety support and dispatch services" for NPS all over the state. "Our thoughts are with Eric's family in this challenging time," said the park's superintendent, Brooke Merrell. According to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, Walter is the first person to perish in an Alaska avalanche this season, reports the Alaska Daily News. (More Denali National Park stories.)

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