Tacoma climber dies in fall on Mount McKinley

Tacoma climber dies in fall on Mount McKinley

Credit: Mike Powell/Getty Images

General view of the West face of Mount McKinley in Denali National Park in Alaska.

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Updated Friday, May 9 at 1:31 PM

A Tacoma woman died in a fall on Mount McKinley after she became separated from her climbing partner during a descent from Denali Pass in stormy weather.
 
Denali National Park officials say Mike Fuchs, 34, of Berlin, Germany and Sylvia Montag, 39, of Tacoma, began their ascent of the Muldrow Glacier route on April 15.  They reached Denali Pass at 18,200-feet elevation on May 3, where they encountered strong winds that forced them to camp for two nights near the Pass.
 
Park spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri said on Monday morning, Fuchs contacted rangers at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station via satellite phone to report that the two had gotten separated as they descended from Denali Pass to the 17,200-foot camp. 

The two were not roped together, nor did they not have radio communications with one another.  Fuchs said he and Montag were weakened from the multiple nights spent at Denali Pass, and they each had only partial survival gear.

In addition to his personal gear, Fuchs possessed the team's satellite phone and camp stove, while Montag had the tent, limited food, and her personal gear.
 
Due to limited visibility and high winds estimated between 40 to 60 mph, Fuchs took shelter in the NPS “rescue cache,” a metal storage locker for emergency supplies and equipment at 17,200-feet. 

Bad weather prevented a rescue attempt until Wednesday evening. A helicopter crew spotted Montag's body 800 to 1,000 feet below the Denali Pass traverse on the Peters Glacier.  Fuchs was seen by the flight crew standing near his camp at 17,200-feet.
 
Fuchs, who was not injured, was airlifted from the mountain using a rescue basket.
 
Montag's body will be recovered when an NPS ground team reaches the 17,200-foot camp.

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