ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Twin brothers died in a fall on North America's highest mountain after they had reached the summit and were on their way back down, officials said Wednesday.
The brothers were not roped together, but Maureen McLaughlin, a Denali National Park and Preserve spokeswoman, said it was possible that one of them fell into the other. They both fell about 1,000 feet.
The weather was clear, winds were moderate and conditions were not overly icy, she said.
Jerry Humphrey's son, Jeremy, who was on a solo climb on McKinley when the accident occurred, told park rangers he spoke to the pair late Tuesday while they were descending from the summit. The next morning, a guided expedition camped at 17,200 feet notified park rangers that two climbers were overdue from an overnight summit attempt.
Members of the guided climbing party went to investigate and discovered the bodies.
The brothers, who climbed Mount McKinley last year with at least one of them reaching the summit, began their climb this year on April 29. They were climbing on the popular West Buttress route, considered the least technical route to the summit.
Since 1932, 95 people have died on the 20,320-foot mountain in central Alaska (search). More climbers fall coming down than going up, probably due to fatigue, McLaughlin said.
The brothers were the first deaths of the 2005 climbing season. One person died on McKinley last year after being hit by a falling rock.