Cooper Landing, Alaska: Over the weekend a deadly avalanche claimed the life of 29-year-old Tyler Kloss. Reports from the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center (CNFAIC) indicate the avalanche was triggered by snowmobiles. Kloss was from Soldotna, Alaska. This marks the 7th avalanche fatality of the 2016-2017 season.
Details on the accident: On Saturday, January 28, Tyler Kloss and his friend, Bryant Evans, had been snowmobiling near Cooper Landing, two miles off the trailhead at Snug Harbor Road. An avalanche was triggered by their snowmobiles and the mile-wide slide caught both men in its path. Both men were equipped with avalanche beacons.
Another group in the area witnessed the event. They were able to quickly locate Evans, who had his face and a hand exposed. Evans was packed so tightly in the concrete-like snow, the only thing he could move was his exposed hand. The heavy packed snow made digging him out difficult, but once freed, he was uninjured.
Meanwhile, another rescuer located Kloss’ avalanche signal 100 feet away. According to reports, it took 20 – 30 minutes to recover Kloss, who was buried 8-10 feet below the surface. At the time of recovery, Kloss was unresponsive and flown to an area hospital. Unfortunately, he did not survive.
The quick response of the rescuers, their awareness of other groups in the area and their preparedness to act is to be commended. Though difficult, these accounts are very important for all of us to read as they can help us be more prepared and aware when traveling in the backcountry.
Forecaster Comments, CNFAIC
The region in which this avalanche occurred was outside the advisory area of the CNFAIC.
Avalanche details regarding the snowmobile accident:
Trigger: Snowmachiner Avalanche Type: Hard Slab Aspect: Northwest
Elevation: 2500ft Slope Angle: unknown Crown Depth: unknown
Width: 3000ft Length: 1000ft
US Avalanche Accidents Report 2016-2017
TOTAL FATALITIES: 7
DATE PLACE FATALITIES STATE ACTIVITY SUMMARY
2017-01-28 Near Cooper Landing, Kenai Peninsula 1 AK snowmobiler
2017-01-05 Stanton Mountain, north of West Glacier 1 MT backcountry tourer
2017-01-04 Near Crystal Mountain, south of Greenwater 1 WA backcountry tourer
2016-12-27 West of White Pass Ski Area 1 WA sidecountry rider
2016-12-23 East of Grand Targee Resort 1 WY sidecountry rider
2016-12-11 Henderson Mountain, near Cooke City 1 MT backcountry skier
2016-12-10 Mt. Rose Chutes – Closed Area 1 NV inbounds rider
Our sympathies to the friends and families of all parties involved.