Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Denali Pro Award Winners Announced

The National Park Service (NPS) and Pigeon Mountain Industries (PMI) recognize mountaineering guides Heidi Kloos and Robert Durnell of Mountain Trip International as joint recipients of the Denali Pro Award for their selfless assistance to fellow climbers during a May 2007 rescue effort.

Since its inception in 1998, the Denali Pro program has honored members of the climbing community for exhibiting high standards for safety, self-sufficiency, Leave No Trace ethics, and assisting fellow mountaineers. Throughout each climbing season, rangers award worthy individuals with a Denali Pro lapel pin, the design of which changes from year to year. At the end of each season, mountaineering rangers collectively select a Denali Pro Award winner from the list of pin recipients. The winner, or winners in the event a team is selected, receive a specialized trophy, and their name is added to the Denali Pro Award plaque on display at the Talkeetna Ranger Station.

We are proud to say that over 20 American Alpine Institute Denali guides and clients have received the Pro Pin!

Kloos and Durnell were positioned at the 17,200-foot camp on Denali when they witnessed two climbers from another expedition suffer a 2,000 foot fall on May 17, 2007. Upon arrival at the accident site, the hasty team determined that one of the two climbers had died in the fall, while the other was in serious condition with a compromised airway and active bleeding. The two guides were instrumental in assisting the NPS mountaineering staff in emergency medical treatment and preparation of the surviving patient for evacuation back to the 17,200-foot camp.

After the evacuation was underway, Kloos and Durnell remained at the accident site. On their own volition, they also collected and consolidated the various personal effects that were strewn throughout the fall zone. These difficult tasks were crucial to the eventual recovery effort, as the scene was quickly getting covered by drifting snow and 30 mph winds. Once the personal effects were secured and marked, the two returned to the 17,200-foot camp where they initiated the preparation of food and water for all rescue personnel, as well as the preparation of hot water bottles to help warm the surviving patient. Although the injured climber died the following morning without regaining consciousness, the contributions of Kloos and Durnell helped ensure that everything possible was done in the attempt save the patient.

South District Ranger Daryl Miller said “The efforts of Mountain Trip guides Heidi Kloos and Robert Durnell exemplify the quality of character that the Denali Pro Award seeks to recognize. We thank them for their hard work, and we also thank PMI for helping sustain this important award program.”

Good work Heidi and Robert!

For more information on AAI's Denali Expeditions, please see the
Denali program page and the 2008 Denali Team Rosters.

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