Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2005-05-31
Submitted By: NWAC
Place: Mt Logan, East Ridge
State: YK
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 climber caught buried and killed


WHITEHORSE - A Calgary woman who became the youngest person to ever scale Canada's highest peak when she summited at 17, has died in an avalanche on the mountain.

Jessica Aulik, 24, was killed May 31 when she was swept down the east ridge of Mount Logan at about 2,900 metres.

Her climbing partner, 34-year-old Chris Davis, from Fairbanks, Alaska, wasn't injured in the avalanche and managed to make his way down to her after a day, but it was too late, police said.

Davis also didn't have a satellite phone to call for help, and searched for assistance for a week, until he was spotted Monday by a TransNorth helicopter pilot flying in the area.

"The second climber went to the assistance of the deceased, which took approximately a day," Cpl. Tickie Hayes said. "The surviving climber did not receive any injuries at all. He is still in the Haines Junction area, and is being assisted by local community personnel."

Aulik had moved to Fairbanks to study photo-journalism at the University of Alaska.

"She was someone that if she puts her mind to it, she would get up it and down it and pretty much everything she attacked, climbing-wise, she went in and did it right," said Dick Flaharty, owner of Apocalypse Designs, an outdoor clothing store in Fairbanks, whose home serious climbers gathered at each Thursday.

"Highly respected. She was someone that if you said you were doing a serious trip somewhere, you wouldn't question if Jessie said she wanted to go."

In an interview about a year after she climbed Mount Logan the first time, Aulik said climbing for her was about the journey.

"It's just the experience. I love being up there and above the hustle and bustle of everyday life," she said. "It gets me away, gets me free."

Officials from Kluane National Park have recovered Aulik's body, and are investigating the incident.

Police say heavy wet snow that's fallen on the mountain in recent weeks produced the unstable conditions and the avalanche.

Mount Logan, which reaches almost 6,000 metres, is notorious for its sudden snow squalls that blow in from the Pacific Ocean.

There are about six groups now climbing Mount Logan, with about a month left in the climbing season.

Just a few days before the May 31 avalanche, a powerful storm trapped three other climbers near the summit for three days. The men, who were all experienced climbers who had volunteered for years on a Vancouver-area search-and-rescue team, suffered from frostbite and hypothermia.

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