1,100-foot fall causes first death of season on McKinley

The black line denotes the West Buttress route, and the red line denotes the path of the climber’s fall. Photo by B. Washburn, National Park Service.

Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak, claimed its first climber for the 2012 climbing season. The climber, as yet unidentified,  fell 1,100 feet Friday after turning to retrieve a backpack that was sliding down a slope, Denali National Park officials have reported.

The climber was part of a three-person climbing team. None was roped up at the time of the fall. Park and Preserve mountaineering rangers were notified at 4:30 p.m. that a member of the climbing team had fallen from the 16,200-foot level on the mountain’s West Buttress route, the  Bellingham Herald reports.

A NPS climbing team was not far behind the group, according to The Alaska Dispatch.
Denali National Park reports that 336 mountaineers are currently in some stage of climbing the mountain. Nine climbers died on and around McKinley last year, the third-highest ever.

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