Two climbers fall from Mount Hunter

Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two international climbers were airlifted off Mount Hunter Tuesday after they fell about 700 feet down the 14,573-foot peak, according to the National Park Service.

Hunter, which is near Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve, is considered at least as difficult to climb as North America's tallest mountain.

The climbers, part of a six-person team, were roped together and ascending the southwest ridge of the mountain when one lost his balance and both climbers tumbled down a snow slope on a lower section of Hunter about 6 a.m., the Park Service said.

Two uninjured climbers skied down a glacier for help and reached a pilot on a CB radio at 10:50 a.m.

The Park Service sent its high-altitude Lama helicopter to pluck the two climbers from the mountain, one at a time, using a cable and a specialized backboard. Ranger Kevin Moore was lowered from the helicopter to assist each climber.

One suffered lower back and pelvic injuries, along with a possible lower leg fracture and head injury. The other suffered a lower leg fracture and torn ligaments, the Park Service said. The climbers were not identified pending notification of relatives.

An Alaska Air National Guard helicopter met the Lama on the Thunder Glacier at the base of Mount Hunter, and transported the climbers to Alaska Regional Hospital where they were in stable condition Tuesday evening.

It was the first fall by climbers in the Alaska Range this season, the Park Service said, though several climbers have been evacuated for other medical problems.

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