Denali National Park Announces Fatal Climbing Fall On Mount Johnson

The following is courtesy of the National Park Service:

Fatal Climbing Fall on Mt. Johnson

Denali Park, AK – A two-person team fell approximately 1,000 feet while climbing Mt. Johnson, an 8,400-foot peak located in Denali National Park and Preserve’s Ruth Gorge, on the night of Thursday, April 25.  One of the climbers died in the fall, while the partner sustained serious traumatic injuries.   

The roped climbers were ascending a route on Mt. Johnson known as “the Escalator,” a steep and technical alpine climb on the peak’s southeast face.  The approximately 5,000-foot route involves navigating a mix of steep rock, ice, and snow.    

The “Escalator” route on Mt. Johnson, Denali National Park and Preserve.  The X indicates the approximate location of the rescue of the surviving climbing partner.    (NPS Photo / J. Kayes)

The fall was witnessed by another climbing party on the route, who alerted the Alaska Regional Communication Center at approximately 10:45 pm.  The reporting party then descended to the accident victims and confirmed one climber had died in the fall.  The responders dug a snow cave and attended to the surviving climber’s injuries throughout the night.   

At 7:00 am Friday morning, the park’s high altitude rescue helicopter pilot and two mountaineering rangers launched from Talkeetna.  After an initial reconnaissance flight of the accident zone, a mountaineering ranger was short-hauled via long line to the awaiting climbers.  Together, the ranger and injured patient were short-hauled out to a flat glacier staging area, and then loaded into the helicopter for the flight to Talkeetna. The patient was transferred to a LifeMed air ambulance at the Talkeetna State Airport for further care. 

Later that morning, the park helicopter and two rangers returned to the accident site to recover the body of the deceased climber, however they were turned back due to deteriorating weather and increasing cloud cover.  NPS rangers will return to the site when weather conditions allow. 

The identity of the deceased climber is being withheld until family members are notified.