Jessica Aulik , May 31, 2005

Woman, 24, dies in Canadian avalanche
Jessica Aulik
MOUNT LOGAN: Student at UAF first climbed the country's highest peak at 17.

The Associated Press, Published: June 11th, 2005

FAIRBANKS -- A photojournalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was killed in an avalanche while climbing Canada's tallest mountain.

Jessica Aulik's body was recovered from Mount Logan in the Yukon on Monday, a week after she fell 1,500 feet.

Aulik, 24, had made headlines when at 17 she became the youngest person to reach the summit of the 19,500-foot mountain. Last summer she climbed both Mount Logan and Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak at 20,320 feet.

Aulik's boyfriend, Jeff Levison, said she was hoping to achieve a more difficult ascent of Logan this time around.

Levison said some of Aulik's love for climbing originated with her father, Nick, a heli-ski guide who was killed in a 1983 avalanche when Aulik was 2. She began climbing at age 9.

Aulik was climbing with friend Chris Davis, 34, of Fairbanks when a small avalanche swept her off her feet at about the 9,000-foot level on May 31, according to Canadian authorities.

Aulik died from head injuries, according to Rhonda Markel, Kluane National Park's acting chief warden.

Davis was unable to reach help for several days. He climbed from Logan's east ridge and passed through his base camp for supplies.

Aulik was dead by the time he found her, so he returned to the remote camp. The pair's expedition was scheduled to last until June 25, Markel said, and Davis could have been stranded until then.

"He had no way of getting out," Markel said.

But a helicopter pilot spotted the avalanche and Aulik's body, then picked up Davis.

"It was very tragic, very unfortunate," said Markel. "I really feel for Chris, being in there."

Aulik is the 12th climber to die on Logan since 1973. Markel said traffic on Logan isn't as heavy as on McKinley. About 1,200 climbers a year attempt a Denali ascent, while only about 70 to 140 make a run at Logan.

Three Logan climbers had to be rescued after becoming stranded in a storm just four days before Aulik's death. While the weather was calm, Markel said, the thick layer of wet snow left by the storm likely caused or contributed to the avalanche. She said the slide started about 20 feet in front of Davis, but missed him and hit Aulik instead.

"It wasn't a big one but just enough to kick her off her feet," Levison said. "I guess it was a pretty technical section. Why weren't they roped up? People are going to ask that. The reason is because of just what happened. They didn't want to pull each other off if something happened."

Levison said a funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in her hometown of Canmore, Alberta. A Fairbanks memorial service is set for June 19 at the Blue Loon where Aulik worked as a cocktail waitress to fund her almost weekly trips into Alaska's wilderness.