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?
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.