Within hours, news began trickling out that Randy Bergt, a beacon of Anchorage's thriving ski community, had died Wednesday in an avalanche up at Hatcher Pass. "Everyone had the same kind of response," said Rob Whitney, a former champion junior skier coached by Bergt at Service High School. "Oh my God — are you kidding me??" Friends say Bergt, 60, was a passionate and highly skilled skier whose death is a shocking loss for hundreds, if not thousands, of people who encountered him over the decades. "He was a pillar of the nordic community," said Joey Caterinichio, board president of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. Randy Bergt (Erik Hill / ADN archive 2009) Bergt retired this year from his job as an engineer in Anchorage's public transportation department. He and his wife, Tasha, coached the powerhouse Service High School boys and girls ski teams of the mid- to late-1990s and have volunteered in the Anchorage outdoor community for years. He also worked ski patrol at Alta Ski Area in Utah, a friend said. But it was Bergt's enthusiastic energy about the sport that captivated people. "He was just super-active in the ski community, and not just nordic racing," said Tim Miller, an avid skier and friend of Bergt for 25 years. "He just loved skiing." Bergt and two equally experienced friends decided to ski the President's Ridge area of Marmot Mountain on Wednesday despite avalanche warnings of "considerable" danger above 3,500 feet. All three carried avalanche beacons as well as rescue probes and shovels. They decided to descend at 3,600 feet, according to a preliminary report by Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center forecasters Jed Workman and Allie Barker that was posted Friday. Bergt entered the slope and triggered an avalanche 150 feet wide and 800 feet long. Bergt, caught and carried through a vertical, rocky gully, was buried four feet deep in a "narrow terrain trap" at the base of the run, Barker and Workman wrote. The other two skiers conducted a beacon search and picked up a signal near the base of the debris pile, the report says. They found Bergt with a probe and dug him out. They tried to revive him with CPR but couldn't. Emergency responders began