Two climbers stranded on Denali, North America’s highest peak, in need of rescue due to hypothermia

Two climbers are currently awaiting rescue near the summit of North America’s highest mountain, Denali. They made the request for assistance along with a third climber in their team after successfully reaching the summit during the busiest time of the mountaineering season. Officials at Denali National Park and Preserve have been informed of the situation.

The condition of the climbers was not immediately known. However, the third climber was successfully rescued on Tuesday. According to park spokesperson Paul Ollig, all three climbers had previous experience on high-elevation international peaks and two of them had previously climbed Denali.

Park rangers received a distress signal from the three climbers at 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The message stated that they were suffering from hypothermia and were unable to descend after successfully reaching the summit, which stands at an impressive 20,310 feet (6,190 meters).

According to a statement from the park service, they continued to stay in touch until approximately 3:30 a.m. At that time, they exchanged texts outlining their intentions to descend to a flat area called the “Football Field” at an altitude of around 19,600 feet (5,974 meters).

After the climbers failed to respond, the Rangers were unable to establish contact with them. Despite this, their satellite communication device remained in the same location. Unfortunately, the park’s high-altitude helicopter was unable to fly due to the cloud cover, preventing them from reaching Denali. As a result, the park sought assistance from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. The Alaska Air National Guard then dispatched an HC-130J airplane from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage to search for the climbers.

By noon on Tuesday, two climbers had been spotted at an altitude of 19,000 to 20,000 feet (5,791 to 6,096 meters) on the mountain. Additionally, a climbing guide reported sighting the third climber at approximately 18,600 feet (5,669 meters).

The weather improved on Tuesday evening, allowing the high-altitude helicopter to successfully land at a camp for climbers located at 14,200 feet (4,328 meters).

National Park Service mountaineering patrol rangers were providing treatment to two climbers from another expedition for frostbite in that location. The climbers were then evacuated to Talkeetna by the helicopter crew.

On Tuesday night, a third rescue mission was launched to reach the three climbers who had sent a distress message. At that point, one of the climbers had managed to descend to a high camp situated at 17,200 feet (5,243 meters) and was experiencing severe frostbite and hypothermia, according to the park’s statement. The climber received assistance from a guided party until a park service team arrived, after which they were airlifted from the mountain and later taken to Talkeetna for further medical treatment.

An experienced expedition guide on the upper mountain offered assistance to the other two climbers, who were located at the “Football Field.” However, for safety reasons, the guide had to descend to the 17,200-foot high camp when clouds returned.

Rescuers were unable to reach the two climbers on Wednesday due to cloudy and windy conditions. Both aircraft and mountain ascents were hindered by these unfavorable weather conditions. Park service personnel had to wait for better conditions before making any further rescue attempts.

According to Ollig, the park spokesperson, the extent of survival equipment possessed by the two climbers remains uncertain, but it is believed to be minimal.

According to the expert, teams usually opt for a lighter load and carry less survival gear on summit days to increase their speed and efficiency.

According to him, although this rescue operation is undoubtedly dramatic, it is not uncommon.

Currently, there are 506 climbers who have set their sights on reaching the summit of Denali. According to the park service, the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the busiest two weeks of the climbing season.

A total of 117 climbers have successfully completed their mountain ascents. Out of these, 17 individuals were able to reach the summit.

Denali National Park and Preserve lies approximately 240 miles (386 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

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MBS Staff
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