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4 deaths on McKinley

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4 deaths on McKinley

Postby SeanReedy » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:50 pm

http://www.adn.com/2012/06/16/2507310/four-climbers-killed-in-mckinley.html: Four Japanese mountain climbers are believed dead following an avalanche early Thursday morning on North America's tallest peak. The 800-foot slide came at about 2 a.m. as the five-person team was roped together, descending a main route down Mount McKinley, according to the National Park Service. Four of the climbers, all in their 50s and 60s, disappeared in the avalanche.
The lone survivor is a 69-year-old man who fell about 60 feet down a crevasse but scrambled to safety with no significant injuries.


(The first death of the season was on May 20th): http://www.adn.com/2012/05/19/2471607/fall-on-mt-mckinley-claims-first.html
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby Alpinist » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:44 pm

Very sad. An insignificant but curious detail that they were traveling at 2am. (The accident happened at Motorcycle Hill. It's not like this was their summit day.).

RIP
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:07 pm

Tough year all the way around on Denali. Bad weather, high winds, too many deaths (one is one too many). Swearing off Alaska was one of the smarter decisions I've made in my climbing career.
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby phydeux » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:00 pm

At first I thought this happened on the slope between 14,000 and 16,000 ft - lots of slips and falls there. Motorcycle hill isn't that dangerous a feature on the WB route, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only crevase I remember on it was at the bottom, and it was easy to get over. Two really odd things pointed out by the Anchorage Daily News was the survivor walked all the way down to the Base Camp area - that would mean he walked right through the heavily populated camp just below Motorcycle Hill (no one there during climbing season would be strange), and walked all the way down to the 7000 ft Base Camp (that would mean he walked all the way down the crevase-riddled Kahiltna Glacier unroped! Yikes!! :shock: ). The 2AM time wouldn't be that odd - its considered somewhat of a safety benefit to travel on the Kahiltna and lower areas in the Alaska's mid-summer long evening 'twilight' as the air is cooler (its gets warm on the Kahiltna Glacier on clear days) and the snow bridges will freeze up a little to give you a little more security over those giant crevases (snow conditions get quite soft in the mid-day sun). Disclaimer: I was there over 10 years ago, but friends who have been there more recently commented it was pretty much as I described it.
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby ScottyP » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:25 pm

Record snow year for Alaska. The lower glacier is in the best shape in years. Was there three weeks ago and did not see any crevasse on Moto hill. Strange he walked straight to base camp though, passing through two large camps on the way.
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby mzamp » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:34 pm

phydeux wrote:Two really odd things pointed out by the Anchorage Daily News was the survivor walked all the way down to the Base Camp area - that would mean he walked right through the heavily populated camp just below Motorcycle Hill (no one there during climbing season would be strange), and walked all the way down to the 7000 ft Base Camp (that would mean he walked all the way down the crevase-riddled Kahiltna Glacier unroped! Yikes!! :shock: ).


Would it surprise you that the Anchorage Daily News did not get the story accurate?
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby Kiefer » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:48 pm

The wind got taken out of my sails when I heard this. :(
Like ExcitableBoy said, one death is too many.

I never really gave it any thought that Motorcycle Hill could slide. It just didn't strike me as 'prone'.
Even the crevasse at the bottom and there was another smaller one roughly half way up (when I was there) were easily avoidable.
And at 2:00am to boot! :(

I hope the families can get through this. RIP.
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Re: 4 deaths on McKinley

Postby phydeux » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:33 am

mzamp wrote:
phydeux wrote:Two really odd things pointed out by the Anchorage Daily News was the survivor walked all the way down to the Base Camp area - that would mean he walked right through the heavily populated camp just below Motorcycle Hill (no one there during climbing season would be strange), and walked all the way down to the 7000 ft Base Camp (that would mean he walked all the way down the crevase-riddled Kahiltna Glacier unroped! Yikes!! :shock: ).


Would it surprise you that the Anchorage Daily News did not get the story accurate?



With the state of modern journalism, not really. But the ADN is probably more accurate (relatively speaking) than other news sources here in the 'lower 48'. That's why the story seems odd - walking through the Motorcycle Hill camp and walking all the way down to base camp without talking to anyone. Another related point: when I was there a lot of Japanese climbers were on the 'hill' (Tokyo isn't that much farther away from Anchorage than a lot of major USA cities), so how could he NOT find someone who spoke Japanese if he couldn't speak English. Or maybe the ADN left any reference to those facts out too.
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