American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Weather — Alaska, Chugach State Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985


Alaska, Chugach State Park

On January 29, 1983, Mike Miller (29), Alden Johnson (31), and Neil O’Donnell (29) of Anchorage, Alaska, were attempting a climb of South Suicide Peak when a snow storm and 20 to 40 knot winds turned them back about 1300 hours. They descended the west ridge to a 400 meter couloir on the north side of the ridge. They decided to descend from here to the valley floor and their base camp.

Approximately 200 meters down the couloir, they triggered a 15 centimeter thick by 15 meters wide wind slab which carried them to the valley floor.

Miller walked out for help, while Johnson and O’Donnell stopped after 3.2 kilometers due to a severe leg injury to O’Donnell (fractured tibia). Miller called for help from a private residence. A helicopter evacuation was completed by 1830 hours. (Source: Dan Hourihan, Ranger, Chugach State Park)


Other than the information provided in the report above, the only other detail of interest is that it had been snowing for the past 14 hours. (Source: J. Williamson)

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