Friend believes death of experienced Denali climber an ‘accident’

Austrian mountain guide Matthias Rimml died on Denali last week.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 11:28 AM AKDT
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TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - A friend and climbing partner of the Austrian mountain climber that died after going missing while attempting to summit Denali says he believes experience rules out anything other than a tragic accident.

The National Park Service confirmed the death of 35-year-old Matthias Rimml on Friday following an aerial search for the solo climber. It was reported that he likely fell on the steep traverse between Denali pass, a notoriously dangerous section of the West Buttress route.

Rimml was a professional mountain guide from Austria with years of climbing experience, according to his friend Andy Huetten.

Huetten said Rimml had a goal to climb seven summits and even had the accomplishment of summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro before attempting Denali. Huetten said it was because of this experience that Rimml’s death had to be just an accident, because he believes his friend was prepared.

“Our parents were mountaineers, we grew up that way, and we love to do it. We just love to be in the mountains,” Huetten said. “Our heart goes out in the mountains. You can put us in the city, you can put us in Anchorage, my sister lives in Anchorage ... and it’s nice there, but as soon as I’m in the mountains I’m happy there, I’m totally happy, and Matthias is the same way. He’s totally happy in the mountains.”

Rimml was the first registered climber on Denali this season and had been missing for nearly a week, rangers said. He last checked in with Huetten by satellite phone on April 30. Huetten said the conversation was normal — they talked about Rimml’s health and the weather. Rimml stated he was tired, but doing well.

Austrian mountain guide Matthias Rimml died during a climb on Denali last week.
Austrian mountain guide Matthias Rimml died during a climb on Denali last week.(Photo Courtesy Andreas Huetten)

“Mountaineering is a dangerous sport. It’s a sport, you can not take it lightly,” Huetten said. “We are aware of it because we are mountaineers, and it does not come easy to be on the summit, no matter what. If it’s Flattop or if it’s Denali, it doesn’t matter, and Denali has its own rules.”

Huetten went on to say that on the surface, Denali seems to be an easy technical mountain to climb, but the wind and weather can easily defeat even the most experienced of climbers.

“He was a lovely person, wonderful partner and (an) excellent mountaineer,” Huetten said. “Nature showed us how small we are, that’s all. You always have to be aware of that, that we’re just a little piece of the puzzle. That’s a whole thing. It’s very tragic.”

The National Park Service confirmed the death of 35-year-old Matthias Rimml on Friday following...
The National Park Service confirmed the death of 35-year-old Matthias Rimml on Friday following an aerial search for the solo climber.(Courtesy Andy Huetten)

Huetten stated that the National Park Service has done a wonderful job and is appreciative of the rangers and pilots who put their lives on the line in the attempt to rescue and retrieve Rimml’s body.

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