Fatal Climbing Fall on Mt. McKinley
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, 907-733-9103
Two climbers died as a result of a 1,900-foot fall during a descent of Mt. McKinley on Thursday evening May 17. One of the climbers was pronounced dead shortly after the fall. The partner remained unconscious throughout the night, but succumbed to extensive injuries Friday morning.
The two climbers had reportedly left the 14,200-foot camp on Tuesday morning for an ascent of the Upper West Rib route of Mt. McKinley. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening, a mountaineering ranger patrol staged at the mountain’s 17,200-foot High Camp witnessed the fall, which began from an elevation just below 19,000-feet near the Messner Couloir. The roped pair fell to a point just below High Camp.
A hasty team comprised of the ranger patrol and two climbing guides traversed to the team, and confirmed that one of the pair was deceased. The rescue team performed an initial assessment of the critically injured partner, who was immediately carried back to the ranger tent for emergency medical treatment. The climber, who never regained consciousness, died Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.
Cloud cover and darkness prevented an overnight medical evacuation. The remains of the two climbers will be flown down to Talkeetna when flying conditions permit.
The names of the two climbers are being withheld pending family notification.
Did You Know?
Denali is home to both black bears and grizzly (brown) bears. Black bears inhabit the forested areas of the park, while grizzly bears mainly live on the open tundra. Almost all bears seen by visitors along the Park Road are grizzlies.