2008 Incidents

June 4, 2008 Longest Rescue

With the help of volunteers, Denali mountaineering rangers led a life-saving technical rope rescue of a fallen solo climber on Mt. McKinley the evening of June 3.  read more...

A 44 year old man, was descending the West Buttress route from the 17,200-foot high camp to the 14,200-foot camp when he fell almost 2,000 feet down to the Peters Glacier. The climber fell from an elevation of approximately 16,400 feet down a 35 to 40 degree snow and ice slope, suffering facial trauma and a leg and ankle injury in the fall. The victim was able to use his satellite phone to dial 9-1-1 shortly before noon on Tuesday. Alaska State Troopers connected the distressed climber with Denali National Park rangers who initiated a ground rescue. The high altitude Lama helicopter was unable to fly due to heavy cloud cover.

A hasty team led by a NPS mountaineering ranger mobilized immediately from the 17,200-foot high camp, reaching the injured climber within three to four hours. A second rescue team led by another mountaineering ranger climbed up the fixed lines from the 14,200-foot camp to assist in the elaborate technical rope rescue.

After an initial medical assessment was performed by the first responders, the subject was secured in a rescue litter and the labor-intensive technical rope rescue commenced. Using multiple anchored rope systems, the patient was first raised 2,000 feet back up to the 16,200-foot elevation on West Buttress ridge, before being lowered 2,000 feet down the Headwall to the NPS ranger camp at 14,200 feet. From the time of the initial distress call, the entire ground rescue operation took 10.5 hours and involved 14 ground rescuers including mountaineering rangers, NPS volunteers, mountain guides, and independent climbers.

Denali mountaineering staff estimates there have been at least 10 significant climbing falls onto the Peters Glacier, including three separate fatalities in 1998. This technical rope rescue involves the longest raising operation in Denali mountaineering history.  <<Collapse text>>

July 7, 2008

A climber collapsed and died on the summit of Mt. McKinley on the evening of July 4, 2008.   read more...

The subject, a 51 year old, of Naperville, Illinois was a client on an expedition that began their climb on June 20.

According to the two expedition guides, the client exhibited no signs of distress or illness throughout the trip, and was climbing strongly immediately prior to the collapse. The guides administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for up to 45 minutes, but he did not regain a pulse.

Denali National Park mountaineering rangers at the 14,200-foot camp were immediately notified by the guides via radio. The team was instructed by the NPS rangers to descend carefully with the remaining four clients to the 17,200-foot camp, as there was no safe means of recovering the deceased at that time. Conditions were initially calm and clear on the summit, though weather began to deteriorate as the incident progressed.  <<Collapse text>>

July 8, 2008

For the second time in one week, a mountaineer collapsed and died while climbing Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve. The subject, a 20 year old male, was descending the West Buttress route the night of July 7, 2008 when he collapsed approximately one quarter-mile from the 17,200-foot high camp.   read more...

The subject's guides initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and immediately called for assistance from another guided team at high camp via family band (FRS) radio. CPR was performed for over one hour, but they were unable to revive the patient.

The subject was a client on an expedition that began their West Buttress ascent on June 22. The team's three clients were all members of a scouting group from Indonesia. The subject, one of his teammates, and their two guides had reached the summit late in the afternoon of July 7.  <<Collapse text>>