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Alpine Climbers Missing in Alaska

Two Americans were last heard from before starting up the West Ridge of Moose's Tooth

Eli Michel, 34, from Indiana and Nafiun Awal, 32, from Washington, have gone missing during an alpine climb in Alaska. They haven’t been heard from since May 5. They were planning to complete the West Ridge of Moose’s Tooth (3,170 m), a classic alpine mixed line.

Search and rescue crews went looking in air and on foot over the past few days. On Sunday they spent nearly eight hours flying over the area. Officials said the climber’s tracks disappeared into the site of an avalanche.

Park spokesperson Maureen Gualtieri said in a statement, “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. 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.”

The West Ridge was first climbed in 1964 and is a grade V snow and ice route.