On Saturday, a plane crash at the Talkeetna Airport resulted in no reported injuries. In the early afternoon, the Alaska State Troopers say that they received a report of a crashed plane. Upon arrival, troopers found that pilot Peter Askeland and passenger Merle Askeland, both of Eagle River, were uninjured. Askeland told troopers that the plane’s landing gear collapsed on landing, causing it to go off the runway. The Askelands are the registered owners of a 1947 North American Navion, a plane used by the U.S. military from the 1940s through the 1960s.
On Sunday, two Anchorage men who were overdue from an ATV trip near Petersville returned safely after getting directions from an Alaska State Trooper helicopter. Troopers received the call about James “Bill” Livesay II and James “Jay” Livesay III at around 4:00 pm on Sunday. The two men were about twelve hours past their planned check-in at a cabin near Shulin Lake. A family friend took his own plane and ATV to look for the men, but was unsuccessful. He did find Bill and Jay Livesay’s ATVs abandoned along the trail, however. At that point, the family contacted the Alaska State Troopers. Troopers dispatched a helicopter to look for the missing men, and located them shortly after 8:00 pm. They could be picked up, however, because no landing spot was available for the helicopter. The men appeared to be in good health, and were given the correct direction to walk in order to reach the cabin. They were able to walk back to the cabin by about 10:00 pm, and reported no injuries.
A Mat-Su Borough official says that his office has received the draft of the state-funded assessment of the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System. Terry Dolan, Director of Public Works for the borough, says that the report arrived while he was on leave last week. Dolan says there are two documents, one each for the sewer and water system. He says the total page count is somewhere around 500. Terry Dolan says he and other borough staff will be reviewing the draft report to ensure that it covers all of the areas requested. Of particular interest to many, including Dolan, is the financial analysis. The Talkeetna system is currently operating at a significant deficit, and one aspect that the contractor, CRW Enigneering Group, is tasked to look into is potential rate structures. The document is not yet publicly available, but CRW has said they do plan to present the findings of the assessment to the community in the form of a public meeting.
It hasn’t been a good year for climbers attempting to summit Denali. Wind and snow have kept the summit rate at one-in-three. The weather also means higher risk for injuries, especially frostbite, as Phillip Manning at member station KTNA explains.
Currently, there are 1205 climbers registered to attempt Denali. Of those, 263 are on the mountain, and 896 have finished their climbs. There have been 296 summits, making the current summit rate thirty-three percent. Climbing on Mt. Foraker is already done for the year, with six of the twelve attempts ending in a successful summit.
This week, the tale of bad weather on North America’s highest peak continues. On Thursday, about two dozen climbers were busy shoveling more than two feet of fresh snow at base camp. High winds, snow, and narrow weather windows have been the story of climbing season, thus far. One of the dangers that comes along with a windy season is frostbite, as mountaineering ranger Dave Weber explains. Read More »
A flood watch for the Upper Susitna Valley is now in effect through Saturday night. The flood advisory for the Talkeetna Mountains has been canceled. On Thursday afternoon, the Alaska-Pacific Forecast Center amended the previous advisory, saying that the Talkeetna River is now expected to remain within its banks after cresting on Thursday afternoon. The Susitna River is not currently forecast to flood, but it is now part of the flood advisory. Montana Creek has also risen significantly, but an area resident says that, as of Thursday afternoon, the road and bridge did not appear to be in jeopardy.
The River Forecast Center now expects rivers that drain the Alaska Range to be subject to flooding. Those include both the Yentna and the Skwentna. Both rivers are now forecast to reach moderate flood stage.
Denali National Park has also experienced significant rainfall, recently. The National Park Service has closed the Park Road past the Eielson Visitors Center at Mile 66. Additionally, the Denali Backcountry Lodge has been evacuated due to flooding. Fister says all guests are accounted for and are currently at another lodge on higher ground. She says that those guests as well as twelve Park Service employees cannot be transported by bus, due to high water on the road.
If flooding does occur in the Upper Valley, the National Weather Service reminds residents not to cross flooded roads. Casey Cook, Emergency Manager for the Mat-Su Borough, says that the borough will open access to sandbags stored at the Comsat Road building. Area residents wishing to obtain sandbags may obtain them by calling Cook’s borough office. He adds that, due to floodplain regulations and liability issues, the borough will not be able to deploy sandbags in the event of further flooding.
KTNA is continuing to monitor the situation on the Upper Valley’s rivers, and will provide updates as they become available.
On Wednesday morning, the Alaska State Trooper post in Talkeetna was notified of a missing kayaker. Dylan Asbury of Boise, Idaho, called the troopers to inform them that his kayaking partner, Borislov “Bobbie” Paunovski, had not made a scheduled meet-up at the confluence of Disappointment Creek and the Talkeetna River. Asbury continued to Clear Creek in order to use a telephone to contact troopers. Paunovski had survival gear, including a dry suit, gps, and a phone, but attempts to call him were unsuccessful.
As troopers were preparing to launch a helicopter to search for Paunovski, they were informed that a fixed-wing aircraft had spotted him. That airplane was flown by Eric Denkewalter of Talkeetna, who says he and river boat operator Steve Mahay were scouting for the possibility of a water-borne rescue. Denkewalter is the Assistant Chief of the Talkeetna Volunteer Fire Department, and Steve Mahay has extensive rescue experience on the Susitna drainage.
Talkeetna’s wildlife trooper was dispatched by boat to retrieve Paunovski. Both Dylan Asbury and Borislav Paunovski were returned to the Talkeetna boat launch. Neither required medical assistance.
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