Climber dead, another seriously injured after 1,000-foot fall off Alaska mountain

The body of the 52-year-old woman was recovered on Saturday.

ByJon Haworth and Meredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Sunday, April 28, 2024
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A 52-year-old woman died and her climbing partner was seriously injured after they fell approximately 1,000 feet off of a mountain in Denali National Park in Alaska, officials said.

The incident occurred Thursday night, when the two-person climbing team was scaling Mt. Johnson, an 8,400-foot peak located in Denali National Park and Preserve's Ruth Gorge, according to a statement from the National Park Service.

The roped climbers were ascending a route known as "the Escalator," a steep and technical alpine climb on the peak's southeast face, when the accident occurred, the National Park Service said.

Another climbing party on the route witnessed the fall and notified park rangers at approximately 10:45 p.m. local time, the National Park Service said.

"The reporting party then descended to the accident victims and confirmed one climber had died in the fall," the National Park Service said. "The responders dug a snow cave and attended to the surviving climber's injuries throughout the night."

The surviving climber, a 30-year-old woman from California, sustained "serious traumatic injuries," the National Park Service said.

At approximately 7 a.m. on Friday, the park's high-altitude rescue helicopter pilot and two mountaineering rangers launched from Talkeetna. A mountaineering ranger was short-hauled via long line and rescued the injured climber, the National Park Service said.

The patient was then evacuated to Talkeetna and flown to an Anchorage hospital for advanced medical care, the National Park Service said.

The park helicopter and two rangers returned to the accident site on Friday to recover the body of the deceased climber but were "turned back due to deteriorating weather and increasing cloud cover," the National Park Service said.

They returned Saturday at 8 a.m. local time and were able to recover her body, the National Park Service said. She was identified as Robbi Mecus, 52, of Keene Valley, New York.

"We are grateful for the rescue efforts of Denali mountaineering rangers and the two good Samaritans on Mt. Johnson who helped save a fellow climber's life," Denali National Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell said in a statement. "We extend our thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Robbi Mecus."