In this image provided by the Cooper Landing Emergency Services, emergency personnel respond to reports of an avalanche on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in Cooper Landing, Alaska. One backcountry skier died and two others were injured in an avalanche on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, as warm weather raises the risk for such events in the state. (Clay Adam/Cooper Landing Emergency Services via AP)

In this image provided by the Cooper Landing Emergency Services, emergency personnel respond to reports of an avalanche on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in Cooper Landing, Alaska. One backcountry skier died and two others were injured in an avalanche on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, as warm weather raises the risk for such events in the state. (Clay Adam/Cooper Landing Emergency Services via AP)

Anchorage man killed in Kenai Peninsula avalanche

The avalanche swept away three backcountry skiers

A 28-year-old Anchorage resident was killed Tuesday in an avalanche near the Seward Highway.

According to a dispatch from Alaska State Troopers, a 911 call was made around 3 p.m. reporting an avalanche near Mile 41 of the Seward Highway — close to Devil’s Creek and the highway’s junction with the Sterling Highway.

The avalanche swept away three backcountry skiers, all men, the dispatch says. They had been climbing a mountain with the intent to ski back down. After the avalanche, two of the skiers “were able to self-rescue,” but the third, Joseph Allen, “was unaccounted for.”

The dispatch says the pair of skiers were able to find and dig out Allen, but lifesaving measures were “ultimately not successful.”

A Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast, published daily by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, on Tuesday warned of “very dangerous avalanche conditions” brought on by high winds and cautioned against travel in avalanche terrain. A full report by the center on the avalanche says that the avalanche propagated around 100-200 feet above the ascending skiers. The avalanche was “roughly 150 feet wide and ran for 700 vertical feet.” The center writes that strong winds had likely loaded the area where the avalanche began with snow, stressing a weaker lower layer of snow and increasing the likelihood of an avalanche.

Troopers responded to the area alongside U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, Cooper Landing Emergency Medical Services and Moose Pass Emergency Medical Services, according to the dispatch. The surviving men were transported to “a Kenai Peninsula hospital” for their injuries.

Avalanches were also closing roads on Tuesday and Wednesday between Seward and Lowell Point. A public notice by the city on Wednesday said that crews will be “attempting to keep up with clearing avalanches” to allow traffic through. They say that some areas are seeing snow actively “flowing down across the road.” The notice asks travellers to complete their commutes before 11 p.m. each night, when the crews will be off for the evening.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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