Climber with frostbite brought down from McKinley

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2003

DENALI PARK (AP) A climber suffering from frostbite on both his hands was brought down from Mt. McKinley Wednesday with the help of the National Park Service's contracted high-altitude helicopter, according to park officials.

Rocky Pennington, 51, of Colorado was attempting to climb the West Rib, a much tougher route than the traditional West Buttress route. With the frostbite, Pennington couldn't hold an ice ax, so it wasn't safe for him to travel on the West Rib terrain.

After Pennington's party radioed a distress call to a passing plane Monday, rangers dispatched the helicopter to the 14,500-foot level of the mountain. Pennington was ferried down to the base camp and then an air taxi flew him to Talkeetna for medical care.

It was the second evacuation of this year's climbing season. A climber was brought down Monday after suffering severe abdominal pain.

About 1,100 climbers are registered to climb the continent's tallest peak this season. More than 300 of them are on the mountain now.

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