Searchers find no sign of solo Denali climber last seen Mon.

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Searchers find no sign of solo Denali climber last seen Mon.

Postby Todd » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:58 am

Searchers find no sign of solo Denali climber last seen Monday


Published: June 30th, 2011 02:20 PM
Last Modified: June 30th, 2011 02:22 PM

The National Park Service today is searching for an Austrian climber who has been missing for nearly three days on Mount McKinley. The man had planned to ski from the mountain's summit, the Park Service says.

Juergen Kanzian, a 41-year-old mountain guide from Koetschach-Mauthen, Austria, was last seen on skis about 8 p.m. Monday. He was climbing toward Denali Pass, at the 18,000-foot level of the mountain, according to the Park Service.

Kanzian told other climbers he planned to ski down the popular West Buttress route from the summit, a Park Service statement said.

Of the 1,000 or more climbers that attempt McKinley every year, five to 10 use skis to descend parts of the mountain, including the summit, said mountaineering ranger Tucker Chenoweth.

"What is uncommon is to go skiing up there alone," Chenoweth said.

Several feet of snow had fallen in the two days prior to Kanzian's disappearance, the Park Service said. The temperature was between 0 and 5 degrees high on the mountain when he went missing. Kanzian is believed to have warm clothes and a satellite phone, the agency said.

By Tuesday night, Kanzian had still not returned to his camp at 17,200 feet. A guided climbing team alerted mountaineering rangers, according to the Park Service.

Rangers on Wednesday morning searched the mountain with a spotting scope. Other climbers heading for the summit that day were told to be on the lookout for Kanzian, the Park Service said.

A Park Service helicopter and a Bureau of Land Management plane flew high on the mountain for six hours Wednesday, looking for the climber.

None of the searchers saw any initial signs of Kanzian, the Park Service said.

The Park Service is now analyzing hundreds of high-resolution photos taken during the flights and looking for clues through continued aerial and ground searches today.

Searchers are looking for Kanzian's orange-red coat, or a lime green jacket he may have been wearing, said Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin.

At 20,320-feet, Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in North America. Five people have died on the mountain this year.

Climber Brian Young, 52, of Kodiak, died June 10 of an apparent heart attack, the Park Service said at the time.

Suzanne Allen, a mountaineering guide from Seattle, and Peter Bullard of Shanghai, China, were killed in a fall May 25; Italian climber Luciano Colombo, 67, died May 16 when he slipped while making a steep traverse near Denali Pass and fell 1,000 feet; and Swiss climber Beat Niedere, 38, died at 18,000 feet on May 12.

"It's been a rough year," McLaughlin said.

A total of 1,203 climbers have registered and attempted to climb the mountain this year, McLaughlin said. The last of this year's climbers, about 250 people, were on the mountain Thursday, she said.

The climbing season on McKinley generally runs from April to mid-July, McLaughlin said.

The deadliest season on the mountain came in 1992, when 11 climbers died.

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