There was a close call on Denali this past Monday, as a man slipped and fell into a crevasse on the Kahlitna Glacier. Martin Takac of Slovakia fell into the crevasse while descending North America’s highest peak. He was one of two climbers rescued on Monday, as a second man was evacuated for falling ill. In total, Takac’s rescue took 15 hours. He is currently in critical condition with suspected trauma injuries as well as severe hypothermia.
It was one of the more difficult rescues the mountaineering rangers had ever dealt with, as the widest opening to the crevasse was just 90 centimeters wide.
“For every few feet you went down, it constricted a few inches or even more in places” – Ranger Frank Preston
At first, the five rangers on site took turns dropping into the crevasse to cut away at the ice. The Ranger’s helicopter was grounded for the first few hours of the rescue, but Monday afternoon they were able to bring 3 more rangers and power tools to speed up the rescue. Takac was freed and transported to the hospital at 3:30 on Monday afternoon.
Takac opted to go without ropes on the descent. He is the second person rescued from a Denali crevasse this year who was not roped to others. This is risky, as low snow on the lower Kahlitna Glacier has left many open crevasses. There are 1084 Mountaineers registered to climb Denali this year. 527 people were on the mountain, 386 had completed their climbs, and 122 have summited. Let’s hope the remaining climbers stay safe, and the Mountain Rangers don’t get too busy.