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Climber in Alaska Range dies in avalanche

by Sue Deyoe ~ April 28th, 2011

An avalanche claimed the life of one male climber near the Ruth Gorge on the Denali massif early Thursday.

Two climbing parties were camped overnight on the ‘Root Canal’,  a glacier near the Moose’s Tooth.  A large column of ice collapsed around 1 oclock Thursday morning, shedding ice and snow into the 2 camps  below.

Both camps were demolished.  The four surviving climbers attended to the one injured climber, who was found unconscious and barely breathing immediately after the ice fall.  One climber called 911 via a satellite phone and rescue operations went into affect just after daybreak when the rescue helicopter was able to safely launch.

During the flight on the National Park Service helicopter it was determined that the climber had died from his severe injuries.  An AeroMed air ambulance was staged at milepost 133 of the Parks Highway in order to transport the climber quickly to Anchorage.  They confirmed the death when the two helicopters met at the rendez-vous point.

The name of the climber is being withheld until the family is notified.

The Ruth Glacier is a popular climbing area at this time of year.  There are about 30 climbers currently attempting various peaks in this popular backcountry area of the Alaska Range.

The area isn’t a route on Mt. McKinley, even though it IS in the Alaska Range.

There are currently over sixty climbers on Denali with almost one thousand registered so far this climbing season.

This is a breaking story – check back later for more information.

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