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Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907) 733-9103
Clear skies and milder winds are aiding National Park Service (NPS) aerial observers in the search for two overdue climbers on the Cassin Ridge of Mt. McKinley. The high altitude Lama helicopter and a twin engine Conquest 2 fixed wing aircraft launched at 9:00 a.m. Monday, May 26. Denali mountaineering rangers and other skilled aerial observers familiar with the terrain were on board conducting a visual search and collecting telephoto imagery of the expansive search zone. While the flights conducted this morning and last night have not produced any obvious findings, searchers will continue to fly the route while weather permits. The ability to search and photo-analyze the route in various lighting conditions is a key breakthrough in the search which was initially hampered by bad weather.
In addition to the active search in progress, two Denali volunteer mountaineering rangers are currently responding to a climber with frostbitten hands on the West Buttress route. If needed, they will provide roped assistance to the cold-injured climber on the descent from the top of the fixed lines at 16,200-feet to the 14,200-foot ranger camp. The climber will be evacuated by the Lama helicopter upon reaching the ranger camp later this afternoon.