TALKEETNA, Alaska - Three Danish climbers were rescued Thursday and flown by helicopter off the 17,200-foot high camp on Mount McKinley's west buttress climbing route.
Two of the climbers suffered leg injuries during an avalanche earlier in the week and were unable to walk.
The three mountaineers — Michael Pilegaard, 26, Mads Knudsen, 30, and Nicolai Bo Silver, 26 — had set out from the high camp Sunday.
They were hoping to summit via a non-standard route up the Autobahn slope leading to Denali Pass. Park officials say they chose the alternative route because of concern over high avalanche danger on the standard route.
After an avalanche swept them several hundred feet, their relatively uninjured companion dragged the other two back to their campsite. They waited two days hoping their injuries would respond to rest and treatment.
They called for help Wednesday on an aviation radio. An air taxi heard their call and notified the National Park Service that day.
After dropping off some supplies and establishing communication, park officials determined the three were in stable condition and made plans for a Thursday morning rescue.
All of the registered climbers are now off the mountain. A total of 1,223 attempted the mountain this year, and 498 made it to the summit, for a success rate of 40.7 per cent. This is the second lowest summit rate in the last 25 years.