The woman who died after getting caught in an avalanche on Saturday, March 27th, 2021 was on a guided heli-skiing trip with a group of people near Matanuska Glacier, AK. The group of four, and a guide, were with Majestic Heli Ski.
The guide and two of the other skiers had already finished their run when Erin Lee, 40, dropped in and triggered the slide. Another skier was waiting at the top of the mountain.
Lee was the only skier caught in the avalanche. All three skiers and the guide watched the avalanche bury Lee.
The guide was able to radio for help and other ski groups in the area were able to help extricate Lee from the avalanche. She was taken to a local hospital, where she later died. About an hour passed from the time of the avalanche to arriving at the hospital.
Lee was equipped with avalanche safety gear, including a rescue probe, avalanche beacon, shovel, and airbag system.
The zone where the avalanche occurred is between the direct forecast zones of the Hatcher Pass and Chugach National Forest avalanche centers. The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center forecast on the day, which covers an area about 60 miles west of the area where the avalanche occurred, categorized the likelihood for an avalanche on Saturday as considerable at all elevations.
Lee was the fourth person in Alaska to die in an avalanche this season. In early February, three climbers died when in an avalanche on Bear Mountain near Chugiak.
Majestic Heli Ski is nestled in the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains about 115-miles northeast of Anchorage.
Majestic Heli Ski has a dedicated and professional snow safety program. Our guides will continuously gather data and evidence, take field observations, perform snowpack tests, monitor weather conditions and evaluate and forecast the snow stability and the avalanche hazard. This process helps us to make informed decisions on your safety, our run selection and lets us find the best snow too!
There are inherent risks involved when skiing, even when all risk control measures are in place. We ask our guests to respect their guides’ decisions. Majestic Heli Ski will not compromise on this. We apply the latest avalanche risk management procedures and follow skiing, mountain and group management techniques to help make the best possible decisions to keep you safe.
Majestic Heli-Ski Safety Policy
There have been 37 avalanche fatalities in the United States this winter season. The USA averages 27 avalanche fatalities per season.