ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A climber was killed and another was seriously injured when they were hit by a falling block of glacier ice in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve, an official said Friday.
The two were hit by the hanging serac after it dislodged from a peak off the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier.
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, said park spokesperson Maureen Gualtieri.
The ice hit the two-person team about 5 a.m. as the men 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 names of the men have been withheld as family members make notifications, Gualtieri said.
The Utah survivor used a satellite communications device to call for assistance about 6 a.m. A statement from the park said the man had significant injuries but was able to 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, arriving about 7 a.m. They took the injured climber to a safe location on the glacier to provide emergency care then flew the man to the nearby town of Talkeetna, where he was transferred to an air ambulance for transport for further care.
Cloudy weather prevented the helicopter from returning to the area Thursday. Rangers will return to the scene when conditions allow to assess the possibility of recovering the climber’s remains, the statement said.
It’s the second death this year in Denali. On May 3, Mason Stansfield, 28, of Ouray, Colorado, died after falling into a crevasse while skiing on a glacier in the national park.
Denali National Park is located about 265 miles (427 kilometers) north of Anchorage.