Four Climbers Presumed Dead in Avalanche

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An avalanche on Mt. McKinley’s West Buttress during the early morning
hours of June 14, 2012 is presumed to have claimed the lives of four
Japanese climbers. The five-member Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation
(MWAF) expedition was descending Motorcycle Hill near 11,800-feet at
2:00 am Thursday morning when an avalanche swept them all downhill. The
five were travelling as one rope team, although the rope broke during
the avalanche. One team member survived the event.Hitoshi Ogi, age 69 of
Miyagi Prefecture, was swept into a crevasse and subsequently climbed
out with minor injuries. Ogi was unable to locate his teammates in the
avalanche debris. Throughout the day, Ogi descended solo to the Kahiltna
Basecamp at 7,200 feet, where he reported the accident shortly after
4:00 pm.

That evening, two NPS rangers flew to the avalanche path in the
park’s A-Star B3 helicopter to conduct an aerial hasty search. There was
no sign of the missing climbers or their gear in the avalanche
debris.In light of the time elapsed, it is presumed that the four
perished in the accident. NPS rangers and volunteers began probing the
debris zone on Friday to look for signs of the climbers.

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