Hunters rescued after being caught in avalanche near Hunter Creek
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Three hunters were rescued early Thursday morning after being caught in an avalanche near Hunter Creek overnight.
The hunters were in the valley sheep hunting when the avalanche hit around 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to an online dispatch posted by Alaska State Troopers. At least two of the hunters were injured.
“One of the guys was buried and the other two individuals had to dig him out,” said Alaska Army National Guard Lt. Col. Michele Edwards in a release about the rescue.
The hunter that was buried in the snow had cold-weather injuries, Edwards said. One of the hunters that helped dig him out had a dislocated shoulder. The third hunter was not injured.
Troopers were notified of the situation but because of the hunters’ location, Department of Public Safety resources couldn’t be used to rescue the group, troopers said. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was requested to help.
A rescue crew left Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson around 11 p.m. in a helicopter, according to the release. Edwards said the hunters were able to move to a flat area where the helicopter could land.
“We had prepared for being able to hoist them out if needed, but it is safer to land, so we always will if there is an opportunity,” Edwards said in the release.
The hunters were able to signal the helicopter using their headlamps. Rescuers were wearing night-vision goggles and were able to spot them, according to the release.
The hunters were taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center just after midnight. Edwards said it is early in the season for avalanches, but rescuers were prepared.
As soon as heavy snow starts to accumulate, avalanches are possible, said Alaska’s Weather Source Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey. Last year and in 2018, the first avalanches of the season in this area weren’t reported until late October. In 2019 however, the first avalanches were reported starting Oct. 12.
There have already been reports of avalanches in other areas of the state, including another one along Crow Pass Trail in Girdwood on Wednesday and another earlier this month in the Turnagain Pass area.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more information about the rescue from the Alaska Army National Guard and information about recent avalanches from Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey.
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