Climber in critical condition after falling almost 1,000 feet on Denali

A tall snowy mountain, its peak peaking out through the clouds.
Denali Pass is the V-shaped notch in the upper left quadrant, at 18,200 feet. The flat plateau below it to the right is where the high camp sits. Adam Rawski was traversing from the pass to the camp when he fell, according to park officials. (NPS Photo/Jeff Pflueger)

A 31-year-old climber from British Columbia is in critical condition after falling almost 1,000 feet from a high mountain pass Monday on Denali, said a statement from park officials.

Climbers at the 17,200-foot high camp on Denali’s West Buttress route witnessed the “un-roped mountaineer take an almost 1,000-foot tumbling fall” around 6 p.m. from Denali Pass, said the statement.

The climber, identified as Adam Rawski, of Barnaby, British Columbia, was on his way down the mountain, according to Sharon Stiteler, a park spokeswoman.

Denali Pass is at 18,200 feet, and a snow and ice slope referred to as the “Autobahn” leads climbers between the pass and high camp.

Park officials said several guides from high camp responded to Rawski. He was alive but unresponsive due to multiple traumatic injuries.

Rawski was taken off the mountain in the park’s high-altitude helicopter, which was at the Kahiltna base camp for glacier monitoring surveys.

He was flown to Talkeetna, where paramedics from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough provided immediate life-saving measures, said the park’s statement. He was then medevaced to an Anchorage hospital in critical condition. 

Stiteler said Rawski was an independent climber and registered to climb with one other partner.

“However, our understanding is he was travelling with three other climbers yesterday evening, not his original partner,” she said in an email on Tuesday.

Denali park reported two climbing-related deaths earlier this month in other parts of the Alaska Range.

On May 13, a climber was killed and another was seriously injured as they started to climb one of the peaks on the southern flank of Denali. In early May, a ski-mountaineer died in a crevasse fall near Eldridge Glacier, east of Denali.

Park officials said three other climbers have been evacuated off Denali so far this season, one with frostbite and two with high-altitude pulmonary edema.

As of Tuesday, there were 382 climbers on Denali, with a total of 912 registered for the season. Six climbers had reached the summit, out of the 30 who had attempted it so far.

Stiteler said she didn’t know if Rawski had reached the summit, at 20,310 feet.

Peak climbing season on Denali is typically from late May to early June.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at or 907-550-8447.

Tegan Hanlon is the digital managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at or 907-550-8447. Read more about Tegan here.

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