Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
An Alaskan ski guide described as a “local legend” was killed in an avalanche in the Chugach Mountains on April 25.
According to a report in the Anchorage Daily News, Michael Hamilton, a 46-year-old heli-ski guide from Valdez, died after he triggered a storm slab at 5,800 feet elevation while skiing down the northwest slope of Pencil Glacier, about 35 miles southeast of Valdez. Local law enforcement said Hamilton was scouting a run for an upcoming tour.
A brief account of the incident from the Valdez Avalanche Center said Hamilton was able to deploy his airbag system, which may have kept him from being buried. But the avalanche swept him 1,500 feet down a slope and over a steep cliff. He suffered traumatic injuries in the fall that resulted in his death.
Hamilton’s heli-ski crew found him unconscious on the mountain and flew him to Valdez for medical care. But officials there pronounced him dead.
“His passing has left a huge hole in the community, he will not be forgotten,” read a statement from the Valdez Avalanche Center.