Back country ski guide Robert Liberman, 35, of Telluride, was killed on Tuesday in an avalanche while helicopter skiing in steep mountains near the southeast Alaska town of Haines, Alaska State Troopers said.
Liberman was buried by the snow slide and apparently died at the scene, the troopers said. He was the first person killed in an Alaska avalanche this winter, according to statistics kept by the Alaska Avalanche Information Center.
Liberman and six other people were in a group that was helicopter skiing in an area known as Takhin Ridge, north of Haines. The region has become increasingly popular with back country skiers paying for helicopter services to reach undeveloped terrain.
Another member of his party survived after being pulled from the snow, and was transported to Seattle for medical treatment, the troopers said, where he is still fighting for his life. He was not identified. The skiers were both wearing avalanche beacons. Three year ago, Liberman used a beacon to save the life of a Rocky Mountain skier.
Liberman was identified as a seasonal guide with Haines-based Alaska Heliskiing. In a profile posted on the company’s website, he describes himself as a former University of Colorado ski racer and an all-around outdoors enthusiast. ”Alaska has always been the mecca and after my first pilgrimage in 2005, I have been returning more appreciative and humbled each year,” he wrote.
Nick Dodov, a snowboarder from Truckee who was also wearing a beacon was rushed to a Seattle hospital after being dug out by a nearby group of skiers, but died on Wednesday. Dodov had been snowboarding in an area north of Haines that is popular with helicopter skiers, according to the troopers.