News Release

Solo Climber Who Died in Fall on Denali Identified

An image of the west buttress part of Denali, with a red line showing the Denali Pass Traverse from 17,200-foot camp to Denali Pass. A yellow X marks the approximate location below the traverse where Mr. Hagiwara's remains were recovered.
Image showing the Denali Pass Traverse from High Camp at 17,200 feet elevation to Denali Pass, at 18,200 feet. The X indicates the approximate location where Mr. Hagiwara’s remains were recovered.

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News Release Date: May 21, 2024

Contact: Paul Ollig, 907-683-9531

Denali National Park and Preserve mountaineering rangers recovered the body of a deceased solo climber at 17,000 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route the evening of Monday, May 20. T. Hagiwara, a man in his mid-40’s from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, is assumed to have fallen from the steep traverse between the mountain’s 17,200-foot High Camp and the 18,200-foot Denali Pass.

Concerned family members had contacted park rangers on May 19 indicating they had not heard from Hagiwara for several days. Upon investigation, rangers were able to identify the fallen climber’s location at 17,000 feet using data from his satellite communication device. The data indicated the fatal fall occurred Thursday, May 16.

An NPS mountaineering patrol at the 17,200-foot-high camp were able to reach the climber’s location at mid-day on Monday, confirm the fatality, and then secure the climber in place. Later that afternoon, weather conditions rapidly cleared, and the park’s high altitude helicopter launched Talkeetna for the recovery mission.

While enroute to the Alaska Range, NPS rangers were notified of an injured climber at approximately 18,600 feet on the West Buttress. A 3-member rope team had fallen just below the feature known as Zebra Rocks, with one team member suffering a lower leg injury. Following an initial reconnaissance flight to the upper mountain, the injured patient was short-hauled in a rescue basket to the 7,200-foot basecamp. The NPS-contracted helicopter pilot then returned to the upper mountain and recovered Hagiwara’s remains using a long line short-haul technique.

Once back in Talkeetna on Monday night, the injured climber was transferred to a ground ambulance. Mr. Hagiwara’s remains were transferred to the State Medical Examiner.

Last updated: May 21, 2024

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