Solo climber on Yukon’s Mount Logan awaits rescue after earthquakes

Mountaineer pinned by weather, quakes in Yukon

WHITEHORSE — A climber trapped on Canada’s highest mountain was uninjured, healthy and has a good supply of food and fuel, a Parks Canada spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Natalia Martinez of Argentina was making a solo ascent of Mount Logan but her plans were disrupted by two powerful earthquakes that jolted the Alaska Panhandle and southwestern Yukon early Monday.

Parks Canada’s Christine Aikens said in an interview the quakes generated avalanches and caused glacial ice to fall in the area of the woman’s camp, which is at 3,900-metre level on the East Ridge of Mount Logan.

She said the visitor safety team from Kluane National Park in Haines Junction was working with Martinez to develop a plan to get her off the mountain.

“Weather conditions in the icefields are poor and are preventing any access to the area,” Aikens said in a news release issued later Wednesday.

An official with the company that flew the 37-year-old to the east ridge of Mount Logan several weeks ago said the experienced climber moved her camp to a safer area and was in good shape.

“She had ascended the hardest part of the route when those earthquakes hit, so there was a lot of avalanches and rock fall,” said Sian Williams of Icefield Discovery. 

“We were very happy to hear that she was safe when we heard from her the morning after the earthquake.”

She said Martinez was dealing with stormy weather and heavy snow that could prevent any rescue until Thursday or Friday. 

The route taken by Martinez is also highly technical, meaning few other climbers are close by, Williams said.

“It’s a more technical route. Most people would be on the ‘C’ route, which is up the King Trench, (that’s) still a very hard expedition, but yeah, Natalia is taking it to another level, doing a solo ascent,” she said.

Aikens said there are two other groups in the icefields of Kluane National Park and Reserve, and one of them is on the mountain.

An average of 25 climbers attempt to summit the mountain every year, but Aikens says solo attempts are rare.

(CKRW, The Canadian Press)

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