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Avalanche kills ski guide; second person 'clinging to life'

A backcountry ski guide was killed in an avalanche in steep mountains near the southeast Alaska town of Haines, Alaska state troopers said.

Robert Liberman, 35, of Telluride, Colo., was buried by the slide Tuesday morning and died at the scene, the troopers said.


Liberman was among six people helicopter-skiing in an area known as Takhin Ridge. The region has become increasingly popular with skiers paying for helicopter services to reach undeveloped terrain.

Another of the six skiers was also buried and was "clinging to life" after being dug out, Haines radio station KHNS reported in a broadcast monitored by the Anchorage Daily News.

He was transported to a hospital in Seattle, Wash., for medical treatment. The injured person was not identified pending notification of relatives.

Liberman was a guide with Haines-based Alaska Heliskiing. In a profile posted on the company's website, he described himself as a former University of Colorado ski racer and an all-around outdoors enthusiast. "Alaska has always been the mecca and after my first pilgrimage in 2005, I have been returning more appreciative and humbled each year," he wrote.

All of the skiers were wearing avalanche beacons.

Liberman was the first person killed in an Alaska avalanche this winter, according to statistics kept by the Alaska Avalanche Information Center.

Five people died in Alaska avalanches during the 2010-2011 winter and spring season, according to the center. One of those killed was a backcountry skier near Haines, while three were mountain climbers in Denali National Park. The fifth was a hiker on a mountain in the Anchorage area.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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