Mt. McKinley Climbing Fatality Identified
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, 907-733-9103
TALKEETNA, Alaska: The mountaineer who died in a climbing fall on Friday, May 18 on Mt. McKinley's West Buttress is identified as Steffen Machulka of Halle, Germany. Machulka, age 49, fell from 16,200-feet after ascending the 'headwall' or 'fixed lines' section of the West Buttress route. Machulka, who was not roped to his two climbing partners, fell 1,100 feet down the north face of the buttress to an elevation of 15,100 feet on the Peters Glacier. A witness to the event indicated the climber fell while attempting to recover his backpack which had started to slide downhill.
Soon after the fall was reported, Denali National Park's A-Star B3 helicopter pilot and two NPS ranger-paramedics flew to the victim and confirmed that Machulka had died of injuries sustained in the fall. Machulka's body was recovered and flown back to Talkeetna that evening.
Did You Know?
Cold temperatures limit trees from growing at high elevation in Denali. Warmer temperatures, however, have led to woody vegetation growing at ever-higher elevations. Treeline changes are a conspicuous sign of climate change.