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    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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Avalanche in the Ruth Gorge Claims Two Lives

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Date: May 31, 2010
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907)733-9103

Two climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Ruth Gorge of Denali National Park and Preserve the afternoon of Saturday, May 29.  Canadian Andrew Herzenberg, age 39, and Israeli Avner Magen, age 42, both current residents of Toronto, Ontario, were descending a steep snow and ice gully wedged between Werewolf Tower and London Tower on the southeast side of the Gorge when the avalanche occurred. 

Another climbing party in the Ruth Gorge witnessed the avalanche.  Aware that a team had been climbing in the vicinity and had not returned to their camp, they skied closer to investigate and observed what appeared to be two climbers and gear in the avalanche debris.  The witnessing party used a satellite phone to call National Park Service mountaineering rangers at 9:00 p.m. Saturday night.  The Talkeetna-based NPS helicopter with two rangers on board flew to the Ruth Gorge and picked up one of the witnesses who directed them to the debris site.  Shortly before 11:00 p.m., NPS rangers confirmed that the two men had died in the fall.  Due to the late hour, the helicopter and crew returned to Talkeetna.  Both bodies were recovered on Sunday morning.

Did You Know?

close view of bearberry, a small red-colored plant

In 1908, Charles Sheldon – a hunter and naturalist – described in his journal the idea of a park that would allow visitors to enjoy the beauty he saw while visiting Alaska. In 1917 his vision became reality, with the creation of Mount McKinley National Park.