Six Climbers Die Scaling Volcano After Icy Weather Prevents Rescue

by Craig Garrett

On Sunday, six people died, and six more were stranded while climbing Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano in Russia’s far east. The freezing winds caused a rescue attempt to halt, reports Reuters. On Tuesday, a party of twelve people–including two guides–began to climb the 15,597-foot volcano. However, this past Saturday, some members of the group fell to their death at about 13,800 feet, according to authorities. All the climbers were Russian, the reports said.

Authorities said that one person had a broken leg. On Sunday, rescuers tried to reach them. However, they had to return owing to strong winds preventing their chopper from touching down. “They were scheduled to land at an altitude of 10,800 feet, but due to gale force winds at 67 miles per hour, they failed to do so,” rescuers said. “Although two attempts were made a few hours apart,” they added.

Tatyana Yukhmanova, a representative from the local civil defense authority, detailed the mountain conditions. The temperature on the mountain can drop as low as minus 7 Fahrenheit at night, explained Yukhmanova. If weather conditions allow, rescuers will try to reach the group tomorrow morning.

Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the tallest of Russia’s Kamchatka volcanoes, towering over 160 snow-capped peaks. The mountain, which are made up of hummocks of volcanic rock mixed with snow and ice, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional natural beauty. Climbers have warned that the peak, which comprises mounds of volcanic stone interspersed with snow and ice, poses serious risk due to its altitude and the potential for a volcanic eruption.

The accident is the latest in a recent string of climbing accidents linked to volcanoes across the globe. However, these incidents are far outside of designated parks. Three climbers died and 12 others were injured last month when they fell while climbing Ecuador’s Carihuairazo volcano. The climbers were attempting to reach the top of the central Andean volcano when they fell 196 feet. The 5,018-meter Carihuairazo colossus towers above the neighboring Chimborazo volcano in Tungurahua province. With a peak of over 6,200 meters, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador.

In Mexico, a woman died and a climbing companion was injured in June. This was while the pair were attempting to climb the highly active, off-limits peak of the Popocatepetl volcano. Civil defense authorities have issued a strict 7.5 mile radius around the peak for climbers since it began erupting again in 1994.

An American vacationer had to be rescued on Mount Vesuvius near Naples in July after slipping into the Italian volcano’s crater while trying to recover his dropped phone. The vactionaer was a 23 year old native of Baltimore. He was hiking on an unauthorized trail.