Recovery Efforts Suspended on Mount McKinley
At left, probe line searching debris for clues; courtesy NPS
ALASKA - On Sunday the National Park Service announced it had permanently suspended its two-day ground search for four climbers lost in an avalanche on Mount McKinley. The park service said it discovered clues confirming the likely location of Yoshiaki Kato, Masako Suda, Michiko Suzuki and Tamao Suzuki of the Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation, and they are presumed to have died. One team member, Hitoshi Ogi, survived the avalanche with a minor hand injury.
The avalanche occured at about 11,800-feet on the West Bustress, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 13. An aerial search was initiated after Ogi reported the avalanche to NPS rangers at the Kahiltna Basecamp the next afternoon, followed by ground searches with rescue dogs. In the search, ranger Tucker Chenoweth went into the same crevasse survivor Ogi had fallen into, and found a broken rope end that matched the team's.
With these fatalities, the total number of deaths climbing McKinley this year is 6. 120 people have died on the mountain since 1932; 12 due to avalanches. These four fatalitites were the first avalanche fatalities on the popular West Buttress route.