Search Underway For Missing Denali Climbers

The following press release is courtesy of Denali National Park:

GPA Photo Archive courtesy of
Carol M. Highsmith

TALKEETNA, AK – Denali National Park and Preserve officials initiated an aerial and ground search on May 7 for two overdue climbers who were last known to be in the vicinity of the Moose’s Tooth*, a 10,300-foot mountain in the park’s Ruth Gorge. Eli Michel, age 34 of Columbia City, IN, and Nafiun Awal, age 32 of Seattle, WA, were last heard from at 5 AM on Friday, May 5 after they checked in with a friend via an InReach satellite communication device.  At that time, the climbers indicated they were intending to climb the West Ridge route of the Moose’s Tooth.  

Concerned when the two climbers did not check in again, the reporting party contacted Denali National Park mountaineering rangers in Talkeetna on Sunday morning. An initial search of the area found the team’s unattended tent, as well as ski tracks heading to the base of the route. At that point, rangers located the team’s cache of skis where they had switched to crampons for the ascent. Boot tracks then continue high on the West Ridge into a recent small slab avalanche.  No other tracks were observed on Sunday. 

An aerial search today is focused on the highly crevassed runout zone.  A ground search will be limited due to crevasse danger and overhead hazard.  Updated information will be shared as it becomes available. 


*Also appears in some sources as ‘Mooses Tooth’, the official USGS spelling