Mountaineers killed in Alaska

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2011

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Two more mountaineers have died in a fall on Alaska’s Mount McKinley, the latest in a string of recent deadly climbing incidents in Denali National Park.

The two climbers were roped to two others, who were critically injured in the late Wednesday fall on North America’s highest mountain. Mountaineers at a camp at 17,200 feet witnessed the accident at about 11 p.m. near 18,000 feet.

The climbers fell about 1,000 feet while descending from the deceptively dangerous Denali Pass to the high camp, National Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister said. The path, used by most climbers to reach the 20,320-foot summit, has a slope of up to 45 degrees. Conditions this year are not unprecedented, Fister said, but are above average in difficulty due to the hard-packed, wind-scoured conditions of the snow.

“There’s not a whole lot to grip into,” she said.

The climbers were the third and fourth to die this year on Mount McKinley. Seven climbers have died in Denali National Park.

A 76-year-old Italian climber, Luciano Colombo, fell to his death in the same area May 16. Rangers said afterward he had not used ropes and snow anchors while descending from Denali Pass.


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