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04 March 2024

Skier survives 40 minutes under snow in Alaska avalanche

By Agencies

A skier was rescued from a massive avalanche that buried him for as many as 40 minutes near the site where another slide killed two snowmobilers earlier this month.

Ian Wilson was blue and unresponsive Saturday when he was pulled out from 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow, but was able to talk before he was transported to an Anchorage hospital, Alaska State Troopers said. The 24-year-old was later discharged from the hospital, said Lt. Barry Wilson, the statewide search and rescue coordinator.

The avalanche was reported just five minutes after searchers recovered the body of Christoph Vonalvensleben, 25, one of the snowmobilers killed in a February 15 avalanche in backcountry about 65 miles (105 kilometers) outside Anchorage.

Poor weather had prevented rescuers from recovering Vonalvensleben's body. Also killed in that slide was Jeremy Stark, 25, whose body was recovered Wednesday by a group of friends.

The recovery effort on Saturday included using explosives to bring down hazardous snowpacks for the safety of searchers, troopers said. Wilson, who is not related to the rescued skiier, said the explosives were set off four hours before the avalanche and were not considered the cause.

Avalanches have killed at least 32 people across the western US since December 2, according to the US Forest Service National Avalanche Center.  (AP)