Denali weather delays hurt snowboarder’s rescue for days
A snowboarder injured on Denali last week was flown to safety along with their climbing partner Sunday night, after days of rescue efforts.
Denali National Park officials said Monday that the snowboarder fell Wednesday afternoon while descending Windy Corner on Denali’s West Buttress climbing route. The two-person team had an InReach signaling device as well as a satellite phone and were able to quickly request a rescue from park rangers.
“Extreme pain and concern for internal injuries required the team to set-up a camp at Windy Corner, a feature at 13,500 feet on Denali named for its extreme winds and a site known for rock fall hazard,” park officials wrote.
Park rangers camped at an altitude of 11,000 feet tried to reach the snowboarder Wednesday night, but were turned back by winds and poor visibility. The park’s high-altitude helicopter was able to fly over the site, but was unable to mount a rescue due to sustained 30 mph winds.
A two-day storm kept conditions windy Friday and Saturday, although the snowboarder and climbing partner reported having several days worth of food and fuel. On Saturday, a medical team reached the site to provide an initial assessment and leave additional supplies with the pair.
As weather improved Sunday, both the rangers camped at 11,000 feet and the high-altitude helicopter were able to reach the scene. After a reconnaissance flight, the two climbers were flown to Talkeetna for medical care.
According to park officials, this year’s climbing season is in its early stages, with 166 people currently on Denali. No climbers have reported summiting Denali or nearby Mount Foraker.
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