Late last week the mountaineering community was stuck with yet another tragedy when two climbers fell to their death on Denali, plunging 2000 feet down the Messner Couloir, on Friday.
The two men were identified as John Mislow, 39, of Newton, Massachusetts, and Andrew Swanson, 36, of Minneapolis. They were long time friends, experienced climbers, and doctors. They were roped together and climbing on the couloir when the accident occurred, although it is unclear as to how they wandered on to that route, as they had been climbing the West Rib when they set out on May 30th.
The article that I linked to above says that the Messner Couloir is an extremely steep, dangerous, and challenging route that few climbers even attempt. Out of 1200 summit bids last season, only two were launched along that route, although it has become a popular way to descend, while on skis, in recent years. Neither of these two men were carrying skis. Speculation is that they wandered out on to the couloir after a successful summit and were attempt to descend that way. The two doctors’ cameras were found intact, and may provide some clues.
These are the third and fourth deaths on Denali this season. My condolences go out to the friends and family of these climbers.
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