A search and rescue effort was ongoing in Alaska for two people who disappeared while climbing at Denali National Park and Preserve late last week.
The climbers, from Seattle, went missing Friday on Moose’s Tooth, a 10,300-foot peak near the Ruth Gorge in the park, according to the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service.
Based on boot prints and other clues, the federal agency reported 34-year-old Eli Michel and 32-year-old Nafiun Awal, likely fell while climbing high on the West Ridge route of the peak.
The two climbers likely triggered a small avalanche while climbing and fell, coming to rest in a heavily crevassed glacier at the bottom of the slide path, officials said Tuesday.
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Concerned friend alerted officials
Search efforts began Sunday after a concerned friend alerted park officials the pair had not checked back in after their climb.
Denali National Park mountaineering rangers and the park’s contracted helicopter pilot conducted two flight missions each on Sunday and Monday. Ground searches of the heavily-crevassed glacier at the base of the peak were conducted by a mountaineering ranger harnessed to the end of a helicopter rope, the federal agency reported.
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“Clues collected in the two days of searching include the team’s vacant tent site with ski and boot tracks leading up into a small slab avalanche near the top of the West Ridge route,” the park service said in a press release. “Several pieces of the climber’s equipment were also sighted along the 3,200-foot fall line, including two ice axes and a climbing helmet. “
Officials said the search will continue when the weather allows, with a focus on the base of the fall line.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.