Alex Von Bergen 1992-05-01

92-196 - Denali (Alaska) - Three Fatalities; SAR in Progress

Rangers are in the process of attempting to drop food, water and a camp stove to three Korean climbers who have been marooned without food or water for six days at the 18,000-foot level of Mount McKinley, but efforts to drop the supplies by helicopter have been thwarted so far by winds of from 60 to 70 mph. Park spokesman John Quinley reports that nearly perfect weather will be required to fly in and rescue the climbers, but adds that "perfect weather is not in the forecast." Rangers learned of the climbers' plight when the Koreans radioed on Saturday to a helicopter crew searching for several European climbers on the mountain. Swiss climber Alex Von Bergen, 42, died on Sunday after experiencing respiratory problems at 14,000 feet, and two Italian climbers - Roberto Piombo, 30, and Giovanni Calcagno, 49 - were killed late last week when they fell while climbing Cassin Ridge. Rangers recovered Calgano's body yesterday at the mountain's 11,800-foot level; Piombo's body remains on Cassin Ridge at 15,000 feet. While efforts were underway to find and/or recover these climbers, rangers also learned of another incident in which three Koreans from a second Korean climbing party fell into a 60-foot crevasse at 15,500 feet. One climbed out, a second was rescued, and the third was being pulled out by rangers and volunteers late yesterday. The third climber, who is suffering from major trauma, will be raised out on a stretcher and taken by sled to the 14,000-foot level for evacuation. (Yereth Rosen, Reuters, 5/18)