Climber found dead after falling off highest peak in North America

Since 1980, at least 14 climbers have died in falls on the West Buttress route.

A climber has died at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska after park rangers found a body at an elevation of over three miles, officials said.

The incident began to unfold on Monday when rangers were contacted by a concerned family member that had not heard from a climber for several days, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

“The climber had been regularly checking in with family via an InReach communication device during their attempted solo climb of Denali,” authorities said.

Park authorities were immediately sent to the upper mountain range on the West Buttress route due to concerns from the family member and mountaineering rangers were able to quickly locate the climber’s empty tent at the top of the 16,200-foot ridge, park officials said.

“Through interviews, rangers also determined the last known sighting of the climber. Another climbing team had witnessed them traversing from the 17,200 feet plateau to Denali Pass at 18,200 feet on Wednesday, May 15,” according to the National Park Service. “Rangers at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station were able to collect satellite location data from the climber’s InReach account and identified their probable location at 17,000 feet on Denali. The InReach data indicated the device had not changed location since Thursday, May 16, suggesting a fall from the Denali Pass traverse took place on that day.”

A National Park Service mountaineering patrol at the 17,200-foot-high camp was subsequently able to locate the probable fall location of the climber using a spotting scope on Monday morning once the weather began clearing on the upper mountain, officials said.

“The team proceeded to the site and confirmed that the climber was deceased. The ranger patrol then secured the climber in place and returned to high camp,” according to authorities. “Recovery efforts will be attempted when weather conditions allow. The identity of the fallen climber will be released once family has been notified.”

Since 1980, at least fourteen climbers have died in falls along the treacherous West Buttress route section, including this latest death.

“There are currently 352 climbers on Denali’s West Buttress Route, the majority of whom are much lower on the mountain this early in the climbing season,” according to park officials who said that the climbing season typically begins in early May and ends in early July.