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Fairbanks rock climber dies in fall at Denali National Park

A Fairbanks man died Tuesday night after falling 70 feet while rock climbing in Denali National Park and Preserve, according to park officials.

Evan Millsap, 26, was climbing with a friend around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in a rocky drainage off Igloo Canyon — near Mile 37 of the Denali Park Road — when an anchor system the team had set up failed while Millsap was rappelling, officials said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

According to park officials, they were notified of the accident around 11:20 p.m. after Millsap’s climbing partner had down-climbed the ridge, evaluated the seriousness of Millsap’s injuries and sought help from the host at Teklanika Campground.

Rescuers from park headquarters, Toklat and Friday Creek reached the site of the fall around 1:15 a.m., according to officials, and after consulting with the park’s medical director by satellite phone, rangers pronounced Millsap dead. Millsap’s body was transported to the park entrance, officials said.

Millsap was a Ph.D. student in geoscience and a teaching assistant at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, according to a university spokeswoman.

Pat Druckenmiller, a geology professor and director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, said Millsap was “one of the brightest students I’ve had the opportunity to mentor.” As Millsap’s major adviser at UAF, Druckenmiller worked with Millsap for the past year at the university and in the field.

“He was a real gem. The one year (Millsap) was here at UAF, he became a real vibrant member of our community,” Druckenmiller said. “His loss will be felt wide through the geology department and the museum.”

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