Two Climbers Fall 1,900 Feet to Their Death from Mount McKinley

Two climbers died after a 1,900-foot fall during a descent of Mount McKinley — North America's highest mountain — Denali National Park and Reserve officials said Friday.

Rangers declared Mizuki Takahashi, 36, dead shortly after the fall Thursday night. Her climbing partner, 27-year-old Brian Massey, remained unconscious throughout the evening, then died Friday.

A third team member had stayed behind at a lower elevation level, National Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

Mountaineering ranger patrol members at the 17,200-foot level witnessed the fall that began just shy of the 19,000-foot mark. The roped pair fell to an elevation level just below where the patrol was stationed.

The deaths were the first climbing fatalities on 20,320-foot Mount McKinley since two Ohio men died in May 2005, Fister said.

Takahashi was from Lake Forest Park, Wash., north of Seattle. Massey, of North Bend, Wash., was a firefighter for the Kent Fire Department, said Capt. Kyle Ohashi, a department spokesman.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, both climbers were to remain on the mountain until flying conditions permitted a recovery, Fister said.