Climber killed in McKinley fall identified as German

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2012 2:05 PM

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A climber killed in a 1,100-foot (335-meter) fall on Alaska's Mount McKinley as he tried to retrieve a sliding backpack during an ascent of North America's tallest peak has been identified as a 49-year-old German man.

Denali National Park officials said Steffen Machulka of Halle, Germany, fell down a ridge to his death on Friday after reaching for the backpack at the mountain's 16,200-foot (4,900-metre) level.

Machulka and his two climbing partners, who were not roped together at the time, had just finished ascending a steep headwall section when the accident occurred, park officials said.

Rangers reached the scene soon after the fall was reported and confirmed that Machulka was dead, officials said. His body was flown off the mountain that evening.

The fall marked the first climbing death this year on McKinley or any of the mountains in Denali National Park, officials said.

The climbing season generally runs from late April to early July, with about 1,200 to 1,300 climbers attempting the 20,320-foot (6,190-meter) peak each year. In a typical year, a handful of climbers die on McKinley or other mountains in Denali National Park.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)