NY forest ranger dies in 1,000-foot fall while climbing in Denali National Park

Man walking along a hiking trail down to Wonder Lake in Denali National Park & Preserve
The climber has been helping to protect New York's mountains and hikers for 25 years (Image credit: Mark C Stevens)

A long-serving New York forest ranger has been confirmed as the climber who died following a 1,000-foot fall in Denali National Park on Thursday. The incident resulted in serious injuries for her climbing partner.

Robbi Mecus, 52, was climbing “the Escalator” route on Mount Johnson with a 30-year-old unidentified California woman when the pair, who were reportedly roped, suffered the fall. Witnesses alerted authorities at around 10:45 p.m. before building a snow cave to shelter the surviving climber, according to the Sacramento Bee. Mountain rescue teams were able to transport the surviving climber to the hospital by helicopter on Friday, but due to weather conditions could not extract Mecus's body until Saturday.

Mecus worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for 25 years, mostly in Essex and Franklin counties, making her work largely within the Adirondacks. According to reporting in the New York Times, she was involved in rescuing a frostbitten hiker in the region only a few weeks ago. She came out as transgender aged 44 and was an advocate for L.G.B.T.Q. climbers in New York and was an organizer of Queer Ice Fest in the Adirondacks.

Mount Johnson is an 8,400-foot peak with a notable north face that challenged alpine climbers with over 4,000 feet of vertical sheer granite with climbing routes, including the one that Mecus was attempting, which is described as a steep and technical climb involving snow and ice.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.