Search Under Way on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park For Missing Austrian Climber

A search was under way on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve on Thursday for an Austrian mountaineer who failed to return from an intended trek to Denali Pass at 18,000 feet.

Park officials launched an air and ground search Wednesday after Juergen Kanzian, age 41 of Koetschach-Mauthen, Austria, failed to return to his camp while ascending to Denali Pass on the West Buttress route. When Mr. Kanzian had not returned to his tent at the 17,200-foot high camp by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a guided team alerted park rangers at the 14,200-foot camp.

"Mr. Kanzian, a mountaineering guide in the Alps, was last seen on skis and had told other climbers he intended to ski from the summit via the standard West Buttress route. It is unknown how much survival gear and supplies Kanzian was carrying, although he was wearing warm clothing and was believed to be carrying a satellite phone," a park release said. "Weather conditions at the time of his disappearance included low to moderate winds, some cloud cover, and temperatures between 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. In the two days prior to his disappearance, rangers at high camp recorded several feet of new snow."

On Wednesday morning rangers began searching with a spotting scope, while several guided and independent climbing teams headed towards the summit were told to watch for clues to Mr. Kanzian’s whereabouts, the release added. On Wednesday afternoon, two air resources were launched in the search effort, including Denali’s A-Star B3 helicopter and a Pilatus PC-12 fixed wing aircraft from the Aviation Branch of the Bureau of Land Management.

Hundreds of high resolution photos were being examined for clues, the release said.