Alaska News

Climber presumed dead in crevasse fall near Mount Hunter in Denali National Park

A climber from Japan was killed in a crevasse fall when an ice bridge collapsed near Mount Hunter in Denali National Park and Preserve, park officials said.

The climber, a 43-year-old man from Kanagawa, Japan, fell through a weak ice bridge at the base of Mount Hunter’s North Buttress late Tuesday evening, the park said in a statement. He was unroped from the rest of his team at the time, and the fall occurred at about 8,000 feet elevation near the team’s camp on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, park officials said.

One of the climber’s teammates sought help from National Park Service mountaineering rangers at the Kahiltna Basecamp at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to park officials. Two patrol members accompanied the teammate back to the site of the fall. One of the rangers rappelled into the crevasse and determined that the narrow crevasse was filled “with a large volume of snow and ice approximately 80 feet below the glacier surface” from the collapse of the ice bridge, park officials said.

“The ranger was unable to descend further,” park officials wrote. “The climber is presumed dead based on the volume of ice, the distance of the fall, and the duration of the burial.”

Authorities will evaluate the feasibility of recovering the climber’s body in the next few days, according to park officials.

This is the second climber death reported in Denali National Park so far this season. Searchers found the body of a solo climber from Austria in a fall zone below Denali Pass on May 6, after the man failed to check in with a contact on the ground for several days. The park reported Matthias Rimml, who was the first registered climber on Denali this season, likely fell on a notoriously treacherous stretch of the popular West Buttress route.

On Wednesday, park officials reported that Rimml’s body was recovered Tuesday in a long-line helicopter operation.