Climber dies on Denali during solo attempt

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 A climber was found dead Monday on Denali, bringing to two the number of lives claimed this year in the national park, the Park Service said. The climbers was attempting a solo climb of the West Buttress Route.

Denali National Park and Preserve mountaineering rangers located the dead climber at an elevation of about 17,000 feet after being contacted on Sunday by a family member who had not heard from the climber in several days. The climber had been regularly checking in with family via an InReach communication device during the climb, and had been seen by other climbers as late as May 15.

Mountaineering rangers patrolling the upper mountain located the climber’s empty tent at the top of the 16,200-foot ridge. Through interviews, rangers determined the last known sighting of the climber: A climbing team had witnessed the climber traversing from the 17,200 feet plateau to Denali Pass at 18,200 feet last Wednesday.

Rangers at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station were able to collect satellite location data from the climber’s InReach account and identified the probable location at 17,000 feet on Denali. The InReach data indicated the device had not changed location since Thursday, May 16, suggesting a fall from the Denali Pass traverse took place on that day.

On Monday morning as weather on the upper mountain cleared, an NPS mountaineering patrol at the 17,200-foot-high camp located the climber by searching the probable fall location using a spotting scope. 

The team proceeded to the site and confirmed that the climber was deceased. The ranger patrol then secured the climber in place and returned to high camp. Recovery efforts will be attempted when weather conditions allow. The identity of the fallen climber will be released once family has been notified.

Since 1980, at least fourteen climbers have died in falls along this treacherous section of the West Buttress route, including the soloist, the Park Service said. There are currently 352 climbers on Denali’s West Buttress Route, the majority of whom are much lower on the mountain this early in the climbing season. The climbing season typically begins in early May and ends in early July.

Earlier this year another climber fell and died in Denali National Park, gaining notoriety across the media because he was a transgender male-to-female.

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