Four climbers pulled off Mount McKinley

Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Four climbers were plucked from Mount McKinley Wednesday, including three from an elevation above 19,000 feet.

At 2 a.m., Denali National Park and Preserve rangers at the 14,200-foot camp on the mountain received a radio message from three climbers needing help. One, Camilo Lopez, 28, from Longmont, Colo., was hypothermic, dehydrated and suffering from altitude sickness.

His climbing partners, Peter Hoffman and Jan Markup, both from the Czech Republic, were weakened from a long night spent at high altitudes, rangers said.

The rescue involved three short hauls with a park-contracted high-altitude Lama helicopter. Pilot Jim Hood flew to where the three were stuck on the Messner Couloir route and had to hover while Lopez, the most critical patient, strapped himself into a rescue basket.

Hood flew a dangling Lopez to the Kahiltna base camp at 7,200 feet. A LifeGuard Air Ambulance then transported Lopez to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Hood returned twice to evacuate Hoffman and Markup to the base camp. An air taxi flew them to Talkeetna.

Hood also evacuated another injured climber from the 14,200-foot ranger camp to base camp in an unrelated incident, the park service said.

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