Four Killed in Avalanche on Denali

Death toll on America's tallest mountain rises to six this year

Four Japanese climbers are presumed dead after an avalanche tore down the West Buttress of Denali, North America’s highest peak. Recovery efforts have been permanently suspended after a broken rope matching the one used by the Japanese team was found in a crevasse filled with heavily compacted ice and snow.

The five-member Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation (MWAF) was descending at around 11,800 feet on Denali's West Buttress on the morning of June 13 when the avalanche swallowed them up and swept them into a crevasse.

One climber, 69-year-old Hitoshi Ogi, managed to escape with nothing more than a hand injury, and climb 60 feet out of the crevasse, according to the National Park Service.

Unable to find his fellow climbers in the avalanche debris, Ogi spent the next 36 hours descending to the Kahiltna basecamp at 7,200 feet, where he reported the event to park rangers.

That night, two searches—one aerial, the other consisting of a four-member ground crew—set out unsuccessfully to locate the missing climbers. On June 16, an expanded 10-person ground crew and a search-and-rescue dog probed further, finding the Japanese team’s severed rope 100 feet down the crevasse Ogi climbed out of. There were no other signs of the missing climbers.

Denali, also known as Mount McKinley (as it's listed by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names), has claimed 120 lives—12 due to avalanches—since 1932.

Via The Adventure Blog.

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