Snowboarder Killed by an Avalanche Near Takshanuk Mountain, Alaska

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David Dzenawagis of Haines, Alaska, seen here in 2018, died in an avalanche on Wednesday. Credit: David Dzenawagis/Facebook

A 34-year-old snowboarder from Haines, AK died in an avalanche north of the city this week. Alaska State Troopers, who received a call on the death shortly before 1 pm, say David Dzenawagis died Wednesday in the area of Takshanuk Mountain.

Two skiers with Dzenawagis, 36-year-old Ted Cheney and 33-year-old Theodore Hart, both of Haines, extracted Dzenawagis from the snow within seven to eight minutes.

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Slide path and debris pile. Facing southeast. The exact extent of the crown line is tough to pin down. Credit: Alaska Snow

They tried to resuscitate the snowboarder but were unsuccessful.

Haines Fire Department emergency personnel pronounced him dead at the scene and transported the body off the mountain by helicopter. An autopsy is scheduled.

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Looking up at chutes from below. Due to poor light/low contrast, it’s very hard to discern debris field from photos. Credit: Alaska Snow

From the official report:

The avalanche occurred in the three main chutes that loom above the lake at the end of the Takshanuk Mountain Trail road (See map below). This area, including the chutes, is easily accessed via state land and is commonly skied. We have multiple reports of people skiing these chutes this year without incident.

The avalanche was very complex, with remarkable propagation across the entire bowl, through stands of trees, including multiple chutes, aspects, and slopes. In general, it appears the entire area slid out, to varying depths. Linking together the multiple crown lines that were observed (albeit in poor visibility), the crown length maps out to approx 280m, possibly more. A second slide (included on map) that appears to be sympathetic occurred approx. 100m uphill on a small convexity.

Most of the debris funneled into the two eastern-most chutes, completely filling the runout below them. Debris piled up approx. 20ft deep on the flats at the lake. Much of the debris in the upper bowl consisted of large blocks of hard slab.

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One thought on “Snowboarder Killed by an Avalanche Near Takshanuk Mountain, Alaska

  1. The chutes come down every winter, they are avalanche chutes. The snow conditions were ripe for avalanches that day, there was about three feet of new snow on top of firm set snow. The visibility was poor all day. I know this area because I run a summer tour on Takshanuk Mountain Trail (a private exclusive use trail, not a road). The name of the mountain is Ripinski, part of the Takshanuk mountain range. The decision to ski these avalanche chutes was a poor one and ended with a very unfortunate tragedy that was absolutely preventable. I see ski tracks down these chutes every winter (for the last 10) and I will say it again, they come down every year. I’ve watched them come down several times. This is no place to ski or snowboard, too dangerous. I hope these chutes go untouched from now on, there is no need for anyone to die here. What a sad result. Rest in peace, David.

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