A climber was killed and another was seriously injured when a falling block of glacier ice hit them in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. The accident happened Thursday as the two were beginning to climb one of the peaks on the southern flank of Denali, the continent’s tallest mountain. The hanging serac hit the two after it dislodged from a peak of the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier.
The ice hit the two-person team as they began to climb the west face of Reality Ridge. One climber, described by park officials as a 31-year-old man from Logan, Utah, was knocked unconscious. When he woke up, he found his climbing partner (a 32-year-old man from Rigby, Idaho) dead from the accident.
The Utah survivor used a satellite communications device to call for assistance. A statement from the park said the man had significant injuries but could move out of the debris area to a safe location to await rescue.
Two mountaineering rangers were flown to the site by Denali National Park’s high altitude helicopter. The injured climber was taken to a safe location on the glacier to be administered emergency care. He was then flown to a nearby town, where he was transferred for further medical care.
Cloudy weather prevented the helicopter from returning to the area. Rangers will return to the scene when conditions allow to assess the possibility of recovering the climber’s remains.
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