American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Anchorage Mount McKinley Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Anchorage Mount McKinley Expedition. Helga Bading, Andy Brauchli, Paul Crews and Rod Wilson were flown to 8200 feet on the Kahiltna Glacier on May 7 to join Chuck Metzger, who had been flown in the day before. On May 16 they established their sixth camp at 16,400 feet, just 200 feet below the Seattle party, which had overtaken them that same day. Because Helga Bading was suffering from the altitude (she was later evacuated in a coma by Don Sheldon, who made an incredibly difficult landing on a tiny plateau at 14,600 feet), they took some time deciding what to do and did not start for the summit until 10:40 A.M. of May 17. Paul Crews gives the following account of the ascent: “We passed the empty Day camp about 200 feet above ours. As we reached 17,000 feet and looked across the snowfield and saw the Day party about half-way up Denali Pass. We climbed behind them perhaps by an hour. They were following the Meiji markers and adding some of their own, so we had no trouble in following. At about six P.M. we reached and passed them, just below the final ridge and took our turn kicking and chopping steps. We finally reached the South Summit at 7:15 with the Day party right on our heels. The weather was clear, calm, -30° F. Susuma Takahashi and another member of the Meiji University group had previously carried a two-man Meade tent to the summit and camped overnight. They had also erected a new plastic pole at the summit and had flown from top to bottom flags in the following order: U. S., Japanese, Alaskan and Meiji University. It made quite a colorful display at the top of the continent.” During the descent, the Anchorage group looked back at the Seattle party, which was at some distance below Denali Pass, and saw that they had slipped. They set in motion the rescue operation which will be adequately covered in Accidents in North American Mountaineering, 1961.

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