24-Year-Old Climber Rescued After 1,000-Foot Fall in Alaska's Denali National Park

A stock image of Denali National Park.
A stock image of Denali National Park.Getty

Tatsuto Hatanaka, a 24-year-old climber from Japan, had thankfully been climbing with a partner, who was able to seek help.

A climber who fell more than 1,000 feet off a high ridge in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve was saved in a stunning rescue.

Tatsuto Hatanaka, a 24-year-old climber from Japan, had been climbing the West Buttress route on Peter’s Glacier with a partner when he fell Friday evening around 11 p.m., National Parks authorities said.

They had reached about 16,000 feet when he fell from the ridge, according to a statement. 

His climbing partner witnessed the fall, but could not see where Hatanaka had fallen, officials said.

At 2 a.m. Saturday morning, his partner was able to notify park rangers and get help, the statement said.

Rescuers immediately dispatched the National Park Service helicopter, but poor weather conditions made it difficult to get to the climber’s location. 

However, mountaineering rangers were able to begin a ground search from their base camp at around 14,000 feet and were eventually able to spot Hatanaka. A military aircraft was then deployed to guide the high-altitude helicopter to Hatanaka’s location and airlift him to safety.

Hatanaka was transported to the hospital by a Life Med helicopter and thankfully only suffered minor injuries.

Denali, which peaks at 20,310 feet, is the highest mountain in North America. Denali National Park spans more than 6 million acres, measuring about the same size as the state of Massachusetts.

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