Home > Gripped Outdoors

Five Heli-Skiers Die in Alaska Helicopter Crash

Two guides and three clients lost their lives, a third person is in the hospital

Photo by: Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

The Alaska State Troopers have reported that five people died in a helicopter crash on the Knik Glacier, Alaska Saturday evening. There were six people heli-skiing out of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, one person is in hospital in serious condition.

On the helicopter were three guests and two guides according to Mary Ann Pruitt, a spokesperson for the lodge. One of the guides who died was Greg Harms, a legendary big mountain skier.

The lodge’s statement said: “This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased. In 17 years of operations this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure.”

The Tordrillo Mountains are a small mountain range in the south central region of Alaska. They lie approximately 120 kilometres west-northwest of Anchorage. The main peaks are Mount Torbert (11,413 feet/3,479 m) Mount Gerdine (11,258 feet/3,431 m) Mount Spurr (11,070 feet/3,374 m) Mount Nagishlamina (11,068 feet/3,374 m) Hayes Volcano (9,147 feet/2,788 m) and Crater Peak (7,575 feet/2,309 m). The area is not popular with climbers, but a go-to for many skiers.

Alaska State Troopers Press Release: The Alaska Army National Guard and volunteers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group have recovered the deceased from the helicopter crash site near Knik Glacier. Next of kin for the deceased have been notified, and they are identified as 52-year-old Colorado resident Gregory Harms, 56-year-old Czech Republic resident and billionaire Petr Kellner, 50-year-old Czech Republic resident Benjamin Larochaix, 38-year-old Girdwood, Alaska resident Sean McMannany and 33-year-old Anchorage, Alaska resident Zach Russel (pilot).

The injured passenger remains in serious but stable condition and is receiving medical care at an Anchorage area hospital. The helicopter was an Airbus AS350B3 owned by Soloy Helicopters of Wasilla, Alaska. The group is believed to have been heliskiing in the area. The NTSB will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash. The deceased have been turned over to the Alaska State Medical Examiner. The Temporary Flight Restriction that was in place over the Knik Glacier area has been lifted.

The Alaska State Troopers would like to thank the volunteers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and our partners at the Alaska Army National Guard for their assistance in the recovery operations. A temporary flight restriction is currently in place from 1100 hrs 3/28 to 1100 hrs 3/29 near Knik Glacier for a recovery mission. Pilots should avoid the area. More information and detailed coordinates can be found here.

Greg Harms Photo Tordrillo Mountain Lodge
Lead photo: Tordrillo Mountain Lodge