Alaska life hack: Tough month for tourists adventuring in Alaska

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Alaska’s highly anticipated summer tourism season took a deadly turn with the occurrence of two separate incidents resulting in the demise of two adventuresome tourists, and the near-death fall of a mountaineer in Denali National Park.

The first incident unfolded on May 20 at approximately 8:19 pm when authorities were alerted to an ATV crash in the rugged terrain of the Jim Creek area. State Troopers and EMS personnel hurried to the scene, located around three miles beyond the trailhead. They discovered the body of 38-year-old Christopher Andersen, a Colorado resident, who had become pinned under an ATV at the bottom of a 25-foot drop-off.

The second incident occurred on May 21, at approximately 5:52 pm, when the Alaska State Troopers received the call about a young man stuck in the perilous tidal mud flats near Hope, with the tide rising. A going effort was launched, with rescue teams from the Hope Sunrise Fire Department and Girdwood Fire Department. Illinois resident Zachary Porter, age 20, was pulled out of the quicksand-like mud, but succumbed to death at about 6:43 pm.

Also on May 20, Tatsuto Hatanaka, a 24-year-old climber from Setagaya-ku, Japan, experienced a fall while ascending the West Buttress towards Peters Glacier.

According to the National Park Service, Hatanaka was climbing with a partner when, around 11 p.m., he slipped from a ridge at an elevation of 16,200 feet. His climbing partner was eventually able to alert authorities.

Approximately 15 hours after the fall, at around 2 p.m. on Saturday, park rangers were informed of the incident and quickly initiated a rescue operation. The National Park Service dispatched a helicopter to the area, where, against all odds, Hatanaka was located aliv, despite a 1,000-foot tumble. Hatanaka was promptly airlifted to a nearby hospital via a medical helicopter, with minor injuries.

Earlier in May, mountain rescuers called off the search for two climbers on in Denali National Park, after their footsteps through the snow were seen to disappear into an avalanche field.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Such a sad story.
    I hope this wakes people up that despite the beauty this is the easiest place to die from nature. Water, cold and exposure. Pack up an emergency bag. Today.

  2. That’s what people do when they enjoy the outdoors.. f around. It’s the time of year for the adventure seekers to be up here.

  3. Assisted on getting people to shore from capsized boat to waiting ambulance at 14 years old and almost lost my own life ending upside down in a Cub and a couple near drownings, the Griz charge of 2019. But in know way is Alaska more dangerous than San Fran, Chicago, Seattle, or Portland.
    Stay safe Kiddy’s 😉

  4. Our kids are required, by law, to wear a helmet when they ride a bike w/ training wheels on it.
    We had a “Karen” film & then call the cops about this years ago.
    I wouldn’t show ID & the cop called for back-up …
    The folks who called it in didn’t like us & sat on the lawn drinking beer to watch the police harass us.
    Safety First!
    I hate government.
    You can kill yourself on McKinley (w/ a permit from the government)
    But can’t smoke a cigarette in a bar ….. THAT will kill you, NOT allowed.

      • We can have smoking & non-smoking establishments.
        The owner chooses which kind to operate. You chose which to enter.
        No one would be required to inhale my smoke.
        I oppose Government Tyranny …. what kind do you oppose?

      • Wayne, true, however those ” others” made a decision to be in proximity of that smoke. It’s called liberty Mr. Coogan, a radical concept that accepts certain risks not unlike Mountain Climbing or Hooter hunting on steep icy hillsides.

      • They moved here & started harassing us.
        Them & their friend (he has moved)
        There are ~34 houses on the block ….. only one of them does this
        We are AK Native

  5. Strangers are quite at risk here in Alaska. The dems will not let us build our state so has to develop life saving infrastructure. They begrudge you so much as a driveway permit. Excessive hatred for their fellow man. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. You are at risk in this backward, hateful, racist state. Nothing is appealing about Alaska at this point. Thanks dems.

    • Exactly. For whatever reason, most of the residents of this state are anti-development.

      • Because so many are now deeply embedded in service occupations and in government employment.

        Not to mention the significant number benefitting both directly and indirectly from government entitlements and no-bid contracts.

        Alaska, more than twice the size of Texas exports virtually nothing beyond oil now, and imports nearly all of it’s food.

  6. Stuff happens. Needs to be a tourism fee. Government funds are used for rescues etc. Stop having taxpayers foot the bill. $50 fee to come to Ak. Use it for that, parks, roads, clean up tourist trash etc

  7. It’s so much more than just being young and assuming you’re immortal…been there, done that, and was lucky enough to tell the stories later.

    The modern 48er youth (a youth which often stretches into their high 30’s) have a rather bizarre notion that there will always be a magic button to push which will set it all right for them.

    I used to give safety orientations to tourism employees (over 90% of which are NOT Alaskans, btw) and I always enjoyed their faces when I detailed how quickly things go from bad to worse and how resources and distance affect emergency response.

    Most tourists and new tourism workers simply won’t believe that there are places in Alaska without cell connection and that even if they can call 911 they wouldn’t be rescued in five minutes or less.

    Then after listening to next-of-kin berate Alaska for not saving their idiot loved ones you understand how their kids became so stupid.

  8. Many tourists see the beauty; not the dangers. They don’t understand our wild animals are NOT FROM THE local ZOO. That IS the beauty of Alaska, the wild animals not behind fences(caged). We need to STOP all the “wind surfing” or any such like activity on the Turnagain Arm and discourage those “adventurists” who has the tendency. Telling them that the Turnagain arm is an area of mud flats when they’re seeing the tide is in has no real meaning to the tourists. As far as mountain climbers, most are not novices, they’ve climbed other mountains. And in the end, tourists will do whatever they want within/without limits. The younger normally are more elusive to the dangers.

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