Skier goes missing during massive Alaskan avalanche cycle

Dr. Liam Walsh, a 33-year-old anesthesiologist from Wasilla, Alaska has yet to be found after going skiing in Hatcher Pass on November 22.

Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Wasilla, Alaska. [Photo] Jack C

Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Wasilla, Alaska. [Photo] Jack C

On Friday, the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center issued a press release reporting that Walsh was last heard from at 1:34 p.m. at the Independence Mine parking lot at Hatcher Pass, 22.5 miles north of Wasilla in the Talkeetna Mountains. Both the avalanche center’s search and an Alaska State Trooper helicopter sweep of the area were postponed due to heavy snowfall and dangerous avalanche conditions.

Before the search was postponed, there was still no sign of Walsh, the press release states. Walsh was reportedly equipped with an avalanche beacon upon leaving the parking lot, but his tracks have been covered by recent snowfall and no beacon signal has been detected, leaving his route unknown, the Alaska Dispatch News states.

“He (Walsh) knew it was going to be dangerous out there,” Don Weller, a friend of Walsh’s, told the Alaska Dispatch News. Weller had planned on joining Walsh but chose to stay close to home in the face of the hazardous forecast.

“Up to six feet of new snow has blanketed the search area, covering old debris, and making the scene unsafe for a ground search,” the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center currently reports on their homepage. “Warm temperatures, significant new snow, and wind continue to contribute to increasing avalanche conditions.”

In light of these conditions, authorities will delay the search for Walsh until the avalanche hazard decreases. The latest avalanche update from the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center states that avalanche danger will remain high to extreme for the next few days and no other updates will be made until the danger decreases.

Read more about Walsh’s disappearance at Alaska Dispatch News.

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