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Two climbers killed in avalanche on Mt. Frances in Denali National Park

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on May 26, 2011 at 7:38 am |
May 26, 2011 7:38 am

From the National Park Service:

Two overdue climbers on Mt. Frances were confirmed dead after Denali National Park mountaineering rangers located their remains in avalanche debris near the base of the 10,450-foot Mt. Frances. Jiro Kurihara, 33, of Canmore, Alberta, Canada, and Junya Shiraishi, 28, of Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, were attempting a new route on the west face of Mt. Frances, a commonly climbed technical peak just north of the 7,200-foot Kahiltna Basecamp, when the avalanche occurred.  The two men were last seen at the Kahiltna Basecamp on May 21st. When they had not returned to their campsite by May 23rd, rangers skied to the western face with a spotting scope, but could not spot the two climbers. On the morning of Tuesday, May 24th, mountaineering rangers on board the park’s contracted A-Star B3 helicopter conducted an aerial search of the peak and identified one body lying in avalanche debris, with a partially buried rope attached. Rangers flew back to the debris zone early Wednesday morning when the colder morning temperatures created safer condition for a recovery operation. Rangers were able to locate and recover the bodies of both men using helicopter short-haul technique. Kurihara and Shiraishi had flown into the Alaska Range on April 27th with original plans of climbing the Cassin Ridge of Denali. The accident occurred following their successful ascent of Denali’s West Buttress route. According to park records, these are the first two fatalities to occur on Mt. Frances.

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