1 climber dead on Mount McKinley, 1 rescued

AP News
Posted: May 13, 2011 5:47 AM
1 climber dead on Mount McKinley, 1 rescued

A member of a climbing team that fell while high on Alaska's Mount McKinley has been rescued, but a colleague was found dead on the 20,320-foot mountain, officials said.

Rescuers aboard a helicopter reached the injured climber at a perch at 19,500 feet Thursday and the climber was able to scramble into a rescue basket, National Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said.

The chopper then set mountaineering ranger Kevin Wright down next to the other climber at 18,000 feet and the ranger buckled the unresponsive climber into a sling. Medics at base camp confirmed the climber was dead. McLaughlin said the cause of death was not yet known.

The injured climber was transported to an Anchorage hospital, but no condition report was immediately available.

Neither climber was identified as officials worked to notify relatives, she said.

Winds had been gusting to 70 mph but calmed to a steady 20 mph by evening, she said. The helicopter was able to pull both climbers off the mountain in daylight.

The climbers were part of an expedition that included a guide and three clients on a rope team. That team fell while descending from the summit ridge either late Wednesday or early Thursday, the spokeswoman said.

After the fall, the guide secured the injured climber in a sleeping bag in a flat area at 19,500 feet while the other two clients descended. By Thursday morning, the guide and one of the two clients had reached a high camp at 17,200 feet. The third client never made it.