Jason F. Marino 06/08/92 Hiker, Fall

Hiker Dies On Flattop - 20-Year-Old Falls To Death
By Jay Blucher And Don Hunter , ADN 06/08/92

A 20-year-old man fell to his death while scrambling along a craggy, steep wall on Flattop Mountain Sunday.  State troopers did not identify the victim Sunday night because next of kin had not been notified.

Others on the mountain said the man was well off the main trail up the popular 3,550-foot peak.  The accident occurred about 7 p.m.

"He was way out there," said Greg Thoelke, a climbing instructor who was on the mountain when the victim's partner came tearing down the trail seeking help.

"All of a sudden, the kid came busting out of the trees, screaming, 'I need your help, my partner's dead, he's fallen off the rocks.' "

Thoelke whistled to some friends farther down the trail.  While they ran down to get help, Thoelke spotted the fallen hiker through his binoculars.

"To be climbing in the area where that guy was, you need (climbing equipment) and a professional," he said.  "It's just not safe to be in that area without equipment."

A doctor who happened to be climbing on the mountain made his way to the victim and found him dead, said Anchorage Fire Department spokeswoman Bridget Bush.

Paramedics moved the body to a location where a helicopter could land and fly him to the Glen Alps parking area.

Bush said the victim apparently was a day hiker, not a climber.  He was wearing tennis shoes, and hundreds of yards off the trail in an area Thoelke said is called "Chugach crud."

"Whole rocks that you think are gonna offer you a handhold just fall apart in your hands," he said.

Chugach State Park rangers have called Flattop the most climbed mountain in Alaska.  As many as 8,000 people scale it every year, they have estimated.  The most popular route up the spine of a ridge to the football-field sized plateau is considered strenuous but not dangerous.

Flattop may be familiar, but it can also be fatal. Park rangers posted warning signs last year after a several severe falls there last year.

Last June, 9-year-old Christopher Flood died after losing his footing and tumbling 300 feet down a steep gully on the north side of the mountain.  About a month later a 44-year-old hiker had to be snatched off the mountain in a helicopter after falling 200 feet and breaking her ankle.

Both falls happened when the hikers were descending the mountain.

On Dec. 30, 1973, 10 people on church outing were caught in avalanche when they tried to glissade down the west side of the mountain on what came to be known as Death Gully. The group chaperone, 35-year-old Patrick McDaniel was killed and several people in the party injured.

Daily News reporters Liz Rushkin and Bruce Melzer contributed to this story.

Recovery From Flattop
ADN 06/09/92

An Alaska State Trooper helicopter crew late Sunday retrieved the body of a hiker who was killed hours earlier in a fall from a steep wall on Flattop Mountain near Anchorage.  Authorities identified the victim as 20-year-old Jason F. Marino of Portland, Ore.  Troopers said Marino, who was hiking with a friend, was killed at about 6:30 p.m.  Other hikers on the popular 3,550-foot peak at the time of the accident said Marino was well off the main trail.  A climbing instructor, Greg Thoelke, who was in the area said Marino was hiking on terrain known as "Chugach crud," where rocks crumble instead of providing a handhold.