One Dead, Three Injured in Accident on Denali

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks & Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

One climber is dead and three others injured in an accident in a wind storm near the 20,000 foot summit of Denali.  The climbers were part of team that suffered a fall high on the mountain early Thursday.  The group’s guide and one client suffered frostbite, but made it to a camp at 17,000 feet.  National Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin says 70 mile an hour winds kept rangers from launching a helicopter mission to rescue the other two until 5 p.m. Thursday.  McLaughlin says a climber who suffered a broken leg was picked up near the mountain’s 19,500 foot level.

McLaughlin says the man suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia as well as the broken leg. She says the helicopter returned to get the other climber, who was found unresponsive near the 18,000 foot level of Denali.

McLaughlin says the cause of death is unknown, but the climber did not appear to have suffered any trauma.  She says the mountaineers spent 24 hours exposed to high winds and temperatures that dipped to -30 degrees. The names of the climbers are being withheld until their families are notified.

APRN has confirmation from Mountian Trip Guides’ co-owner Todd  Rutledge that the guide involved in the Denali accident is Dave Staeheli, an experienced climbing guide since 1979.  Mountain Trip is based in Ophir, Colorado.

Rutledge, is on his way to Alaska at this hour.

The death was the first on Denali this season. Another climber died in an ice fall on the nearby Ruth Glacier late last month.

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