Twins In Fatal Denali Pass Fall

The Anchorage Daily News reports that twin 55-year-old brothers Jerry and Terry Humphrey of Negley, Ohio, fell to their deaths after summiting McKinley.

The twins were not troped together and it is believed one may have fallen into the other. Jerry’s son was also on the mountain soloing and had spoken to his father who said they had summited.

Their bodies were just below Denali Pass. A rescue team from the Air National Guard’s 212th Rescue Squadron, who were also camped at 17,200 feet, traversed to the bodies and prepared them to be taken off the mountain. A high-altitude helicopter brought the bodies to base camp.

Since 1980, six people have fallen and died an icy traverse from Denali Pass to a small basin at 17,200 feet where most climbers make high camp.

Before he left for Alaska, Terry told his wife not to worry, Fair said. He told her, “If something happens to me, just remember that I’m doing what I want to do.”

The NPS Morning Report:

On the morning of May 11th, rangers at the 14,200-foot camp on Mt. McKinley were notified that a two-person climbing team had failed to return from an overnight summit attempt on the West Buttress route. They received word of the overdue climbers via radio from a guided expedition camped at the 17,200-foot level on the mountain. Members of the guided party subsequently left high camp to investigate, and discovered the bodies of the two climbers at the 17,300-foot level below Denali Pass. The two climbers, twin brothers Jerry and Terry Humphrey, 55 of Negley, Ohio, fell an estimated 1,000 feet while descending unroped from Denali Pass. It’s not known what triggered their fall, though weather was not likely a factor. Overnight skies were clear and winds were estimated as low to moderate. Jerry Humphrey’s son Jeremy, who was on a solo climbing expedition of Mt. McKinley at the time of the accident, spoke with the team at 10 p.m. Tuesday evening while the two were descending from the summit. At the time of the phone call, the two men were at 18,600-feet on the route. On Wednesday afternoon, a team of pararescuemen from the Air National Guard 212th Rescue Squadron, also camped at 17,200-foot level, traversed to the bodies and prepared them for a helicopter long-line extraction. The NPS-contracted Lama helicopter then long-lined the two bodies to the Kahiltna basecamp, where they were subsequently transported to a mortuary in Palmer, Alaska. This accident represents the first major incident of the 2005 Mt. McKinley climbing season. Since 1980, the steep Denali Pass traverse has been the site of six previous fatal climbing falls.

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