Update on Climbers Missing in Denali Isn't a Good One

Officials say they likely triggered an avalanche, fell
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2023 2:10 AM CDT
Climbers Who Went Missing in Denali Likely Fell
This undated photo provided by the National Park Service show the West Ridge climbing route of Moose's Tooth, a 10,300-foot peak in Denali National Park where officials are looking for two climbers.   (National Park Service via AP)

There likely won't be a happy ending to the story of two climbers who went missing on a mountain in Alaska's Denali National Park: Officials say Eli Michel, 34, and Nafiun Awal, 32, likely fell Friday, the last day they had checked in with a friend using a satellite communication device. They were reported missing Sunday, and the search continues, NBC News reports. They were climbing the Moose's Tooth in Ruth Gorge, a 10,300-foot peak known for vertical rock and ice walls that is about 12 miles from Denali itself, North America's tallest mountain. Officials believe they triggered a small avalanche, the AP reports.

Searchers found an empty tent and ski tracks that led to the base of a climbing route; they then found skis, indicating that was the point when the men switched to crampons, and tracks that led to a small avalanche site, officials said. "Several pieces of the climber’s equipment were also sighted along the 3,200-foot fall line, including two ice axes and a climbing helmet," they say in a statement, noting that the climbers likely lost those items as they fell. The path of their projected fall would end at a heavily crevassed glacier, which is where aerial search efforts will be focused in upcoming days. (A National Park Service worker died last week while skiing in Denali.)

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