Climbing Fatality in the Alaska Range
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, 907-733-9103
A climber died after an approximately 1,000-foot fall on Mt. Wake in Denali National Park and Preserve on Monday, April 23. At 6:00 p.m. that evening, the first member of a two-person climbing team was rappelling down the Northeast Ridge of the 8,130-foot peak when the fall occurred. It is unknown what caused the rappelling accident.
After realizing their partner had fallen, the second climber descended to the body and confirmed the fatality. Assistance was then sought from another climbing party in the vicinity. A satellite phone was used to inform an emergency contact about the accident, who notified Denali mountaineering staff shortly before 9:00 p.m. Later that evening, the group returned to the victim and brought the body back to their camp in the Ruth Gorge.
At 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 24, Denali mountaineering ranger John Evans flew into the Ruth Gorge with Talkeetna Air Taxi pilot Paul Roderick. After confirming the identity of the climber, they recovered the body and flew back to Talkeetna. The name of the deceased climber is being withheld pending family notification.
Mt. Wake is a highly technical mixed rock, snow, and ice peak located in the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier. At least five other parties were climbing in the vicinity of the Gorge during the timeframe of the accident. Of note, a similar fatal accident occurred on the Northeast Ridge of Mt. Wake on April 24, 1994, when two climbers died while rappelling the peak.
Did You Know?
Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.