Heli-ski guide dies in mountains near Haines

ANCHORAGE — A 34-year old heli-skiing guide died Sunday in a backcountry incident on a mountain near Haines.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Monday that Christian Arcadio Cabanilla was killed in the incident.

He was a guide for Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures based in Haines, Peters said.

Cabanilla and two clients were traversing an area when snow gave way underneath them, and they fell down the mountain, Peters said.

The other two skiers suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Cabanilla was found unconscious and was taken to a Haines clinic, where he was pronounced dead.

Troopers were notified at about 1:13 p.m. Sunday.

Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures did not immediately return a phone call Monday.

KHNS-FM in Haines, citing company President Scott Sundberg as a source, reported that Cabanilla was skiing recreationally on a tour with five people total and was not acting as lead guide.

Sundberg told the radio station the group was skiing near Kicking Horse Valley, west of Haines, and that the death and injuries were not caused by an avalanche.

Biographical information listed on the company website said Cabanilla was an international backcountry snowboard guide with more than a decade of experience in the heli-ski industry in Alaska. He had also worked in the Chilean Patagonia and Antarctica, according to the website.

He had received advanced avalanche training in forecasting and responding to avalanches and had training in crevasse rescue and wilderness first response, the website said.

Cabanilla was a commercial helicopter pilot who had flown glacier sightseeing tours, heli-skiing trips, firefighting missions and mineral exploration flights, according to the website.


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