One of the five who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in the Knik Glacier area of Alaska has been identified as long-time Aspenite and Third Edge Heli proprietor Greg Harms.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced the identities of the deceased via the state troopers’ public information office’s dispatch at 4:50 p.m. Sunday, after next of kin had been notified. Two Czech Republic residents — guests of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge near Anchorage, in which Harms was an owning partner — and two Alaska residents were also among those who did not survive the Airbus AS350B3 crash. One injured passenger “remains in serious but stable condition and is receiving medical care at an Anchorage area hospital,” the dispatch report reads online.
Harms, 52, was best known among extreme, big-mountain ski enthusiasts and luxury-seeking adventurers. It made sense, then, when Curt Morgan and Travis Rice scouted and landed on the Tordrillo Mountain Range as a site for their Red-Bull-sponsored “Art of Flight,” Harms made it onto the film crew.
“Some people might have saw us in the ‘Art of Flight.’ That film — T Rice, he put a ton of effort and a ton of money into that trip. He put almost like three weeks of searching, a lot of waiting, late season. For us, it turned out incredible,” Harms said in a January 2015 interview with Oliver Sharpe on Aspen 82’s “The Lift.”
In that interview, Harms recalled the 10-day stretch of waiting for the “perfect” weather to get the perfect shot in the 2011 film.
“We sat on the ground for about 10 days — 10 days of no riding, so for the athletes, there was a lot of stress. There’s nothing happening and then it’s fully game on at that moment. They sat there in low pressure, big storm,” he said. “Ten days straight. For big-mountain riders, that’s the way it goes.”
Harms was no stranger to the ins and outs of big-mountain excursions; he spent most of his career guiding tours to Alaska’s most sought-after playgrounds. That was another aspect of his job he gushed about to Sharpe in that interview.
“What Alaska has that a lot of people don’t know is a lot of actually mellow, 35-degree glacial runs,” he said. “If the people are not Travis Rice, there’s still a lot of terrain — unlimited. We have 2 million acres.”
On Saturday at about 10 p.m., Alaska State Troopers were notified of an overdue helicopter and “the location of possible crash debris in the area of Knik Glacier,” it continues. “The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center dispatched a rescue team who located the crash site. The rescuers found a sole survivor at the crash site … five occupants of the helicopter were found deceased.”
In 17 years of operation, the incident over the weekend was the first time “we’ve had to face an event of this measure,” a statement from the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge said.
As news made its way through local social media accounts Sunday night, outpourings of dozens of mourners made clear that Harms’ is a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
“My heart is breaking. He was my favorite Viking,” read one.
“A gentle bad-ass giant,” read another.