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Russian climbers turned back from McKinley climb

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two Russian mountain climbers are back in Anchorage after their second attempt at Mount McKinley's summit in the dead of winter.

Marat Galinov and Alexandr Smirnov headed up the Muldrow Glacier Christmas Eve for an attempt on the north side of the mountain.

After two weeks of approaching the mountain, the climbers were hit by a storm at 9,500 feet. The storm, with winds estimated at 120 mph, ripped the climbers' tent apart and blew away two sleds full of gear, food and fuel. The storm also blew away the pair's climbing rope.

After crawling over snow bridges to retrieve gear, the climbers called Hudson Air on a satellite phone and were flown to Talkeetna.

During their 24-day trip, they told KIMO-TV, temperatures dipped as low as 40 below.

The same storm destroyed a weather station at 19,000 feet on McKinley that was installed by a Japanese climbing team last year, the second time a weather station has been destroyed on the upper slopes of Denali. Climbers and rangers were using data collected there to predict weather patterns and give forecasts to climbing teams.



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