1 dead, 1 injured by falling ice debris at Denali National Park

In this photo taken Aug. 26, 2016, sightseeing buses and tourists are seen at a pullout popular...
In this photo taken Aug. 26, 2016, sightseeing buses and tourists are seen at a pullout popular for taking in views of North America's tallest peak, Denali, in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Published: May. 14, 2021 at 10:16 AM AKDT|Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 2:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One climber was killed and another injured Thursday morning by falling ice debris striking them during a climb in Denali National Park and Preserve.

A national park press release did not release the names of the climbers but noted that a 32-year-old man from Rigby, Idaho, died in the accident, and the surviving climber is a 31-year-old man from Logan, Utah.

According to the release, the two climbers were struck at the start of their ascension of the west face of Reality Ridge by a hanging serac, or block of glacier ice, that dislodged from the peak of Ruth Glacier at around 5 a.m. Thursday.

The release said the Utah man was knocked unconscious upon impact. When he regained consciousness, he found his partner, the Idaho man, dead by the debris.

The Utah man then contacted park officials with an InReach satellite communication device at around 6 a.m. that day.

Despite being seriously hurt from the fallen ice earlier, the surviving man managed to trek to a location outside the debris zone to await rescue, according to the release.

Just after 7 a.m., park officials said it sent out a high-altitude helicopter carrying one pilot and two mountaineering rangers to where the accident occurred. Once rangers found the Utah man, they flew him to a safer location on Ruth Glacier.

On top of the glacier, the release said the survivor received emergency medical treatment before being taken to Talkeetna State Airport. The man was then taken to an air ambulance to get checked out.

Later that day, the helicopter pilot and two mountaineering rangers tried to return to the accident site, however, clouds had moved into the area.

Friday afternoon, the National Park Service announced it was able to recover the climber’s remains.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with additional information.

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