A Japanese climber is believed to have become the second climber to die this climbing season in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska when he fell through an ice bridge into a crevasse on Mount Hunter.
Park staff said the unidentified climber, 43, from Kanagawa, Japan, was unroped with his teammates when the ice bridge collapsed near their base camp at around 8,000ft on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier on Mount Hunter, a relatively low (14,573 feet) but technically challenging mountain about 8 miles south of Denali.
The accident happened at the base of the northern buttress of Mount Hunter on Tuesday evening, according to a statement from the park.
A teammate of the deceased climber requested assistance from NPS mountaineer rangers at Kahiltna Base Camp around 11:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Two members of the NPS patrol skied back to the accident scene with the reporting teammate. A ranger abseiled into the crevasse as deep as possible, confirming that the collapse of the ice bridge had filled the narrow crevasse with a large volume of snow and ice about 80 feet below the surface of the glacier. The ranger couldn’t go down any further.
The climber is presumed dead based on the volume of ice, the distance of the fall, and the length of the burial. The feasibility of recovering the bodies will be studied in the days to come.
Following the mountaineer’s death at 17,000ft on Denali in early May, the body of Austrian solo mountaineer Matthias Rimml was found via a long-range helicopter operation on Tuesday.