Solo climber killed in fall on Denali, the park’s second fatality this season

Rangers on Monday found the body of a climber on Denali who likely died in a fall last week, the National Park Service said.

Mountaineering rangers with Denali National Park and Preserve found the climber’s body Monday morning at an elevation of 17,000 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route, the park service said in a statement. Rangers had been contacted on Sunday by concerned family members who had not been contacted by the climber for “several days,” according to the statement. The climber had been attempting a solo climb of Denali, the park service said.

After being contacted by the climber’s family, rangers on Sunday located the climber’s empty tent on top of a 16,200-foot ridge, the park service said in its statement. Another climbing team had also witnessed the solo climber traversing from a plateau at 17,200 feet to Denali Pass at 18,200 last Wednesday.

Rangers used satellite location data from the climber’s InReach communication device to determine the climber’s likely location on the mountain. The device had not changed location from 17,000 feet since Thursday, the park service said, “suggesting a fall from the Denali Pass traverse took place on that day.”

As weather on the upper mountain cleared Monday morning, a mountaineering patrol located the climber’s body and confirmed they had died. The team secured the climber in place on the mountain, and the park service said recovery efforts will be attempted “when weather conditions allow.”

The climber’s identity will be released after their family is notified, the park service said.

This is the second climbing fatality to be recorded in Denali National Park this season, public affairs officer Paul Ollig said in an email. Last month, a woman from New York was killed and her climbing partner was seriously injured in a fall on Mount Johnson.


According to the park service, at least 14 climbers, including the soloist found Monday, have died in falls along a treacherous section of the West Buttress route.

“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 park service said in its statement.