A 41-year-old Anchorage man operating a snowmobile near the community of Whittier, Alaska died after being buried under an avalanche. Alaska State Troopers identified the victim of the Wednesday afternoon avalanche as Chad Christman.
Christman was part of a group of six snowmobile drivers riding in the backcountry near Blackstone Glacier, about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. Five of the riders were uninjured.
Alaska State Troopers contacted the Rescue Coordination Center for assistance and requested support from Alaska Air National Guard rescue squadrons. Troopers said Christmas was the only person flown to an Anchorage hospital, and officials said no other snowmobile driver was injured.
According to a dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers, two men saw the avalanche cover their friend and his machine. When it stopped, Christman was only partially buried. Other people in the area rushed over to help and the group was able to dig Christman out and start CPR.
“This area is fairly remote and it is outside of our forecast zone so we do not have a lot of information for the zone but we do know that there was a lot of weather and snowfall in the area for the last couple weeks of April,” Wendy Wagner said.
Friends and family members of the deceased snowmobiler took to social media yesterday to express their condolences. Christman is described as an avid hunter, angler, hiker and a good friend. A GoFundMe page has raised a few thousand dollars to support his family.
“It’s all dangerous up there, you know. You have to be careful of the terrain and have an escape route always,” Andy Ballou, local snowmobiler said. He explained that the area was a “natural half pipe shape” and that it looked like the snow funneled the riders into a ravine.
Wendy Wagner, director of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center, said that the cause of Wednesday’s avalanche is still unknown at this time. A more thorough, final report will be issued sometime later.