Tragic Death of Climber on Denali’s West Buttress Route

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





The serene beauty of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska was shattered by tragedy as park rangers discovered the lifeless body of a climber at an altitude exceeding three miles.

The distressing sequence of events began with a call from a worried family member who hadn’t heard from the climber in days. The climber had been diligently keeping in touch via an InReach device during their solitary ascent of Denali.

Responding swiftly, park authorities ascended to the upper reaches of the mountain along the West Buttress route. There, they found the climber’s tent deserted atop the 16,200-foot ridge. Interviews with other climbers revealed the last sighting of the individual, with fellow mountaineers witnessing their progress from the 17,200-foot plateau towards Denali Pass on May 15th.

Utilizing satellite data from the climber’s InReach device, rangers pinpointed their likely location at 17,000 feet on Denali, unchanged since May 16th, indicating a fall during the Denali Pass traverse.

Once weather conditions improved, a mountaineering patrol at the 17,200-foot camp visually confirmed the tragic outcome. Recovery operations will commence when conditions allow, and the identity of the fallen climber will be disclosed following notification of their family.

This heartbreaking event joins a grim tally of fatalities along the perilous West Buttress route, with over fourteen climbers perishing in falls since 1980. Presently, 352 climbers navigate Denali’s West Buttress Route, with the climbing season typically spanning from early May to early July.

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