In this Oct. 1, 2017, photo, North America’s tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska. National park rangers in Alaska on Friday, May 6, 2022, resumed an aerial search for the year’s first registered climber on North America’s tallest peak after he didn’t check in with a friend. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

In this Oct. 1, 2017, photo, North America’s tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska. National park rangers in Alaska on Friday, May 6, 2022, resumed an aerial search for the year’s first registered climber on North America’s tallest peak after he didn’t check in with a friend. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

Rangers locate climber’s body on Alaska’s Denali

Rimml began his climb April 27 from the Kahiltna Glacier base camp at 7,200 feet, officials said.

  • By MARK THIESSEN Associated Press
  • Friday, May 6, 2022 11:36pm
  • NewsState News

By MARK THIESSEN

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — National park rangers in Alaska on Friday located the body of the year’s first registered climber on North America’s tallest peak.

Because it’s so early in the climbing season, Matthias Rimml, a 35-year-old professional mountain guide from Tirol, Austria, was alone on the upper part of Denali, a 20,310-foot mountain about 240 miles north of Anchorage. The climbing season usually runs from May through mid-July.

Other climbers and rangers are camped below the 14,000-foot level.

Rimml hadn’t been considered overdue compared to his planned return date and food and fuel supply, according to Denali National Park and Preserve officials. However, a friend who had been receiving periodic check-ins from Rimml contacted mountaineering rangers Tuesday after not receiving a call for days, officials said in a statement.

Park officials said Rimml was already acclimated to the altitude because of recent climbs. He had planned to climb Denali “alpine style,” or traveling fast with light gear. His goal was to make the summit in five days even though he carried enough fuel and food to last 10 days.

The average Denali expedition is 17 to 21 days for a round trip, with climbers making the summit on day 12 or 13, according to the National Park Service.

Rimml began his climb April 27 from the Kahiltna Glacier base camp at 7,200 feet, officials said.

His last known call to his friend was on April 30, when he reported he was tired but not in distress. Rimml reported his location as just below Denali Pass, at 18,200 feet elevation on the West Buttress, the most popular route for Denali climbers.

On Wednesday, a pilot and mountaineering ranger in a National Park Service helicopter looked for Rimml. Intermittent clouds didn’t allow a thorough search, but they did not see any signs of him.

They saw his tent at 14,000 feet but didn’t observe any recent activity, the statement said. High winds and poor weather prevented the helicopter from landing at the campsite, but the helicopter returned Thursday when weather was better. Rangers confirmed Rimml hadn’t returned to the tent.

Clouds prevented the helicopter from flying above 17,200 feet on Thursday, but park spokesperson Maureen Gualtieri told The Associated Press a helicopter with two rangers aboard took off Friday morning from Talkeetna, the nearest community, to resume the search.

Rimml’s body was spotted in the fall zone below Denali Pass during the aerial search, park officials said Friday evening in a statement.

Rimml likely fell on the steep traverse between Denali Pass at 18,200 feet and the 17,200-foot plateau, a notoriously treacherous stretch of the West Buttress route, officials said. Thirteen climbers, including Rimml, have died in falls along that traverse, the majority occurring on the descent, the statement said.

Recovery efforts will not be attempted until an national park ranger patrol is acclimated to the high altitude.

Weather conditions on the mountain have been cold, which park officials say is normal this time of the year. Daytime highs have been around minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit with winds at the two base camps registering up to 30 mph. Five inches of new snow have fallen in the past week on the upper mountain.

On the website for his guide business, Rimml said he always has been close to mountains and nature.

He trained as a carpenter after receiving his high school diploma. In 2015, after he completed military service, Rimml switched to being a freelance ski instructor in Austria and outside Europe.

He became a professional mountain guide in 2015, the fourth generation of his family to do so, his biography states. His specialty was long, technically difficult combined tours.

More in News

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering the sacrifices of the fallen

Speakers ask community to be inspired through sacrifice of service members

A fallen tree reaches onto Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, as cars drive by on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Grants, borough to support HEA effort to mitigate dangerous trees

HEA will have permission to enter borough land and the borough’s right of way

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Most Read