Hatcher Pass Road closed

The road into Hatcher Pass was closed at the Gold Mint parking lot by an avalanche on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. At the time, the closure hampered search efforts for missing skier Dr. Liam Walsh, who was last seen in the Independence Mine parking lot two days earlier. Search teams June 8 said they discovered a body believed to be Walsh, but were awaiting a positive identification, according to Alaska State Troopers.

WASILLA — A search for a Wasilla skier missing since Sunday continues with no signs of Dr. Liam Walsh in Hatcher Pass.

The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center issued a press release on the search, which has been slowed by as much as six feet of new snow in the area and very dangerous avalanche conditions.

A search was launched for Dr. Walsh, 33, after he failed to report back in after driving into the pass to go skiing. He was last seen in the Independence Mine parking lot.

Here’s the text of the release issued on Friday:

Due to high avalanche danger and poor weather, opportunities to search for missing skier, Dr. Liam Walsh, have been limited. Walsh was last heard from at 1:34 pm on Sunday, Nov 22, at the Independence Mine Parking Lot at Hatcher Pass.

The Hatcher Pass road has been closed at the base of the canyon, (the "gateway") as of 2 pm on Saturday. This area will remain closed until further notice due to high avalanche danger and the inability to mitigate hazards due to weather. The road closure is also necessary to keep the area clear for avalanche mitigation work and officials who are continuing the search.

The Alaska State Troopers (AST) helicopter attempted to search for the missing skier on Wednesday but was turned around due to inclement weather. On Thursday, the AST helo conducted another search with Search and Rescue (SAR) and a HPAC avalanche forecaster. The search did not result in any clues as to his location. Up to six feet of new snow has blanketed the search area, covering old debris, and making the scene unsafe for a ground search.

Warm temperatures, significant new snow, and wind continue to contribute to increasing avalanche conditions. An avalanche cycle of this magnitude has not been seen at Hatcher Pass for more than a decade.

Currently, all agencies are formulating plans for next steps to continue with the search. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Dr. Liam Walsh.

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