Seattle guide killed in Mount McKinley fall
National Park Service officials have released the identities of the two climbers killed in a fall on Mount McKinley: Guide Suzanne Allen, of Seattle, and a client from China.
The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE — Two more mountaineers, one from Seattle, died Wednesday in a fall on Alaska's Mount McKinley, the latest in a string of recent deadly climbing incidents in Denali National Park.
Lead guide Suzanne Allen, 34, of Seattle, and a client, 45-year-old Peter Bullard of Shanghai, China, died Wednesday in the fall at the 18,000-foot level, National Park Service officials said Friday.
They were roped to two other climbers, who were injured and hospitalized. The Anchorage Daily News reported Friday that they were in critical condition.
They are 31-year-old Gary Burke, of Dallas, and 30-year-old James Mohr, of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Burke had a broken leg and head injury. Mohr was nonresponsive.
The climbers fell about 1,000 feet around 11 p.m. — still daylight at this time of year — while descending from Denali Pass to the high camp, National Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister said. The path, used by most climbers to reach the 20,320-foot summit, has a slope of up to 45 degrees.
Fister said conditions this year are above average in difficulty as a result of the hard-packed, wind-scoured conditions of the snow.
"There's not a whole lot to grip into," she said.
"She lived life"
Allen's father, Tim Allen, of Mechanicsville, Md., said his daughter moved to Seattle in 1999 with a degree in music education. She got a job at REI, and it was there she discovered her love of mountaineering, and worked to become an outdoor guide, he said.
Allen became a mountain guide for Seattle-based Alpine Ascents, which organizes climbs all over the world, her father said.
"She'd led expeditions to [Mount] Rainier and the Cascade Mountains. She'd done the trek to the Mount Everest base camp a number of times," he said.
According to the Alpine Ascents website, Allen had made three earlier expeditions up Denali.
"She was darn good, and she loved what she did. She was an amazing individual, and I'm just so proud of her," Tim Allen said. "She's packed more life into 34 years than most people do in 60. She lived life, and there's no regrets."
The park service counsels climbers to use ropes and snow anchors, T-shape pieces of aluminum 24 to 36 inches long that can be buried or pounded into hard snow. It is unknown whether the climbers used snow anchors, Fister said
Air National Guard para-rescuemen from the 212th Rescue Squadron responded to the climbers and confirmed that two had been killed. They placed the other two climbers in rescue litters and lowered them to the high camp for emergency medical treatment.
Weather at the time of the accident was clear with relatively calm winds, the park service said.
Allen and Bullard were the third and fourth climbers to lose their lives on Mount McKinley this month.
The season's fatalities began May 12, when a 38-year-old member of a four-person climbing team involved in a fall, Beat Niederer of St. Gallen, Switzerland, was found dead from unknown causes near 18,000 feet. His body showed no visible signs of trauma, and he may have died of exposure.
Four days later, a 76-year-old Italian climber, Luciano Colombo, fell to his death. Rangers said afterward he had not used ropes and snow anchors while descending from Denali Pass.
Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.
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