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Colorado mountaineer found dead after fall into glacier crevasse in Denali National Park

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: 15 hours ago
  • Published 1 day ago

A 28-year-old ski mountaineer from Colorado died Monday when he fell into a glacier crevasse in Denali National Park and Preserve, officials said.

Mountaineering rangers received a communication from an InReach device around 3:30 p.m. that a skier, later identified as Mason Stansfield of Ouray, had fallen into a crevasse on a spur of Eldridge Glacier, according to a statement from the National Park Service.

Stansfield and another skier were flown to the Eldridge Glacier on Saturday and intended to spend 10 days camping, ski touring and exploring spurs off the main glacier, said Maureen Gualtieri, a park spokeswoman. Stansfield was an experienced mountaineer who worked as a professional guide, Gualtieri said.

On Monday afternoon, the two were skinning up the glacier, Gualtieri said. They were not roped together.

“It was my understanding that the winter snow cover had hidden that (crevasse). There was another one in the vicinity that was more obvious that they were skirting ... when this occurred,” she said.

The woman skiing with Stansfield could not see or communicate with him after he fell into the crevasse, the statement said.

A high-altitude helicopter carrying two mountaineering rangers left the Talkeetna airport within 30 minutes of the call for help, the park service said. The fall occurred about 20 miles east of the Denali summit at about 8,000 feet altitude, the statement said.

The red dot indicates the approximate area of the accident. The summit of Denali is about 20 miles to the west. (National Park Service)

One of the rangers was lowered into the crevasse by a rope and found Stansfield dead about 100 feet down, Gualtieri said.

Stansfield’s partner was uninjured and brought back to Talkeetna, the statement said. Rangers recovered Stansfield’s body Monday evening, the statement said.

Stansfield worked as a professional guide for about the last six years, said Nate Disser, owner of San Juan Mountain Guides in Colorado. Disser said Stansfield joined his guiding company after he graduated college.

“He’d become really reliable, well rounded, well respected, a very good tour guide,” Disser said. “As he got a little bit older, he just became a bit more experienced — he was kind of coming into his own. He’d really developed his skill set in a well-rounded and future-oriented way.”

Stansfield was an avid outdoorsman and craved adventure, Disser said. When he wasn’t guiding, Stansfield enjoyed motorcycling, sailing with his father, snowmachining, climbing, skiing and “all of the things that also are what made him a great mountain guide,” Disser said.

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Stansfield had been excited for the trip in Denali National Park, Disser said. He had recently worked with another guiding company, Mountain Trip, and was taking this personal trip before starting a season of guiding in the park. Stansfield had guided for at least three seasons in Denali National Park, according to Gualtieri.

Disser said Tuesday that Stansfield’s death came as a shock to the tight-knit guide community in Ouray, Colorado. Stansfield was young, talented and friends with everyone, Disser said.

“He was 28 years old. It’s just hard to grasp the shortness of his life,” Disser said.

There have been 127 deaths in Denali National Park since 1932, 11 of which have been caused by crevasse falls, according to data from the park. The last death in the park from a crevasse fall was in 1992.