Two Spanish climbers injured in fall on Mount McKinley

Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two members of a Spanish climbing team were injured, one seriously, when they fell while descending Mount McKinley, Denali National Park and Preserve officials said Thursday.

Miguel Angel Romero Ruiz, 33, suffered a head injury, broken ankle and possible broken neck in the fall Wednesday evening, park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said. Francisco Rodriguez Martin, 35, had broken ribs and severe frostbite.

Ruiz was listed in serious condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center Thursday evening and Martin was in fair condition.

The climbers are members of the five-person Gamba De Palamos expedition. McLaughlin said the pair fell while descending unroped from the 18,200-foot level to the 17,200-foot high camp.

Other expedition members did not see the mishap occur, so the distance of the fall is unclear.

Another member of their team was traveling alone and fell into a small crevasse near high camp. The climber, whose name was not released, was slightly injured but managed to free himself and check in with camp rangers.

Shortly after, the climber spotted his injured teammates at the bottom of Denali Pass.

Park Service Ranger Michael Shain and volunteers coordinated a rescue effort. Rescuers treated the climbers until they could be evacuated with a high-altitude helicopter Thursday morning.

The mishap led to the first rescue of climbing season.

McLaughlin said 316 climbers were on McKinley Thursday. So far this season, three climbers have reached the summit, at 20,320 feet.

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