Italian ski tourist killed by falling glacier ice in Alaska

By Steve Quinn JUNEAU (Reuters) - A 28-year-old Italian man on a back-country skiing vacation in the mountains of Alaska died after being crushed by falling glacier ice, officials said on Monday. Alexander Hellweger, from Sand in Taufers in northeast Italy, and a group of friends spent Sunday back-country skiing in an area of the rugged Chugach Mountains, in the southern part of the state, which they accessed by helicopter. Hellweger and friends from Italy and Belgium then decided to view Lake George Glacier before returning to Girdwood, a year-round resort community within the Municipality of Anchorage. "As the group was viewing the glacier up close, a large piece of ice calved off the glacier and crushed (Hellweger)," according to a report by Alaska State Troopers. Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said there were no reports of any other injuries to the group. Chugach Powder Guides, the service that took Hellweger's group on the trip, said in a statement that guides administered CPR and medical protocols but were unable to resuscitate him after what it said was "a mass ice movement event." "While this type of event is an inherent risk of mountain and glacier exploration, Chugach Powder Guides has offered its sincere condolences to the gentleman's family," it said. The Chugach Powder Guides and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group retrieved Hellweger's body on Monday. It was flown to the Girdwood airport, where the State Medical Examiner's Office took possession of it, the Troopers said. (Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Eric Walsh)