First Fatality in McKinley Climbing Season (UPDATED WITH VICTIM'S NAME)
Steffen Machulka fell 1,100 feet
UPDATE: On Monday, the National Park Service identified the victim as 49-year-old Steffen Machulka of Halle, Germany.
ALASKA - On Friday, May 18, Denali National Park and Preserve rangers received word that one of a three-person climbing team had fallen 1,100 feet from a 16,200 feet position on Mount McKinley's West Buttress route.
The team was un-roped, and had just reached the 'fixed lines' section of the West Buttress route when the victim, reportedly attempting to reach for a falling backpack, fell 1,100 feet down the north face of the buttress on the Peters Glacier.
An NPS patrol was ascending not far behind the team and immediately contacted NPS rangers. A helicopter was launched from Talkeetna and reached the victim, who was confirmed dead from injuries sustained in the fall. The body was flown to Talkeetna.
The victim's identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin overseas. This is the first serious incident of the 2012 climbing season on McKinley. Four people have reached McKinley's peak this season, and there are 336 climbers currently on North America's highest peak.