A 24-year-old climber from Japan is lucky to be alive after falling 1,000 feet from an Alaska mountainside.
Tatsuto Hatanaka, from Setagaya-ku, Japan, was hiking along Denali’s West Buttress with a partner around 11p.m. on May 19th when his partner witnessed him fall from a ridge at 16,200 feet elevation. His partner did not see where he landed.
Rangers were dispatched and spotted Hatanaka from a helicopter at about 2 a.m. on May 20th but could not extract him due to cloudy weather creating low visibility. Rangers decided to reach him by foot and a group of mountaineers set out to look for him. They spotted him on the upper Peters Glacier at about 15,100 feet. He had survived a 1,000+ foot fall.
Incredibly, when rescuers reached Hatanaka they found he had only suffered minor injuries. He was airlifted to a hospital.
Well wishes to Hatanaka as he recovers from his injuries. He will have one hell of a story to tell when he gets back to Japan. Shoutout to all the backcountry search and teams across the country and the world that save our butts when things go sideways. We appreciate you!
Denali National Park & Perserve New Release:
Fallen Climber Located on Upper Peters Glacier
Date: May 20, 2023
Denali National Park and Preserve rangers have located a climber who fell from a 16,000 foot ridge on the West Buttress to the Peters Glacier on the evening of Friday, May 19. A mountaineering ranger was able to evacuate the patient who had minor injuries from 15,100 feet.
Tatsuto Hatanaka a 24 year old male from Setagaya-ku, Japan was climbing with a partner on Friday, on the West Buttress climbing route on Denali just above the fixed line at 16,200 feet. At approximately 11 pm, Hatanaka’s partner witnessed his fall from the ridge but could not access or see where he came to rest.
At around 2 am on Saturday morning, rangers were notified of the fall. The National Park Service helicopter was dispatched and could see Hatanaka’s location, but cloudy weather conditions prevented the helicopter from accessing the area.
Two mountaineering rangers conducted a ground search from the 14,200 Foot Camp and could get visuals on Hatanaka’s location at approximately 15,100 feet on the upper Peters Glacier. Four more mountaineering rangers were on their way from the 14,200 Camp to assist in the search and rescue.
Alaska Rescue Coordination Center had a C-130 fixed-wing military aircraft looking for holes in the cloud ceiling to direct park service’s high-altitude helicopter to Hatanaka’s location.
The patient was transferred by Life Med helicopter to a hospital.
images from AlbertHerring, denalinps & Asybaris01 Flickr