It was a rough weekend on the tallest peak in North America when it was announced that four Japanese climbers were killed on Denali after being swept off the mountain in an avalanche. The team of five was ascending the West Buttress at 3496 meters (11,800 ft) when they were hit by the snow, knocking all of them into a crevasse. One member of the team, 69-year old Hitoshi Ogi, managed to survive the fall and climb out.
The incident actually occurred last Wednesday, but it wasn’t until Thursday that Ogi managed to make his way down the mountain for help. Search teams were organized immediately with the hope of finding other survivors, but that search was called off last night. Rangers on the mountain were able to descend into the crevasse, and found what could be remnants of the team’s gear, but there were no sign of survivors. The heavy snow and ice also made the recovery of bodies impossible.
There have now been six deaths on Denali this year. Early in the season one climber fell to his death after chasing his backpack down a steep slope, while another perished when he fell on his descent a week later. With a few more weeks left to go in the Denali season, lets hope that there aren’t any more fatalities.
My condolences go out to the friends and families of these Japanese climbers.
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