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Avalanche, Injuries Prompts Denali Rescue

By | July 27, 2012 - 5:47 pm

Three mountaineers were evacuated from the 17,200-foot camp on Denali’s West Buttress after an avalanche injured two in the party. They were the last climbers registered to climb this season, and were the only ones remaining on the mountain.

Danish mountaineers 26-year-old Michael Pilegaard; Mads Knudsen, age 30; and 26-year-old Nicolai Bo Silver had set out from the high camp on Sunday for a summit attempt. At around 1:00 in the afternoon they triggered an avalanche while attempting a non-standard route up the Autobahn section of the Best Buttress at 17,600 feet

According to Denali National Park Spokeswoman Kris Fister, the trio survived the avalanche, and didn’t call for assistance right away.

On Wednesday morning the party made radio contact with a sightseeing aircraft who was then able to notify the park of their situation. The incident happened after the main climbing season, and park personnel were not on the mountain at the time. According to Fister, the park first established direct contact with the trio by helicopter, which dropped a bag containing radios, food and fuel.

The two injured climbers were flown down to base camp at 9,000 feet in a basket slung from the park’s helicopter. They were then transported to Mat-Su regional hospital for treatment

All registered climbers are now off Denali. A total of 1,223 attempted the mountain this year, and 498 made it to the summit, for a summit success percentage of about 40 percent. This is the second lowest summit rate in the last 25 years.

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