American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Climbing in Mount McKinley National Park

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

It is obvious that this section could not be compiled without the help of many others than the Editorial Board. We are very grateful to all of those who have assisted us. We can not possibly mention here all who have done so much, but we do wish to thank especially Dr. Adolf Diemberger, Michael Cheney, Soli S. Mehta, Kamal K. Guha, Ichiro Yoshizciwa, Tsunemichi Ikeda, José Paytubi, César Morales Arnao, Vojslav Arko, Mario Fantin, Lucien Devies, Marek Brniak, Andrzej Kus, Ken Wilson, David Edmundson, Ramón Bramona Rams and Anders Bolinder.

Climbing in Mount McKinley National Park. On Mount McKinley 1977 was a pleasantly quiet year. After the large number of climbers and the many accidents of 1976, it was a relief that the situation was more settled. Nearly 150 fewer climbers registered, but the number of successful ascents of McKinley were nearly as high as the year before. With another season of exceptionally good weather, an amazing 79% of those who attempted McKinley were successful. Mount Foraker was climbed by only 48% of those who attempted it. It is not an easy mountain by any route. There were fine climbs in 1977. Two climbers put up a new route on the south face of Foraker after completing a difficult new route on the north face of Mount Hunter. (See article.) The Southwest ridge of Foraker was climbed for the first time. (Also see article.) The original ascent route on Foraker, the west ridge, was climbed for the second time. On Mount McKinley two new variations were made on the south face. A Japanese party climbed the Centennial Wall via a more difficult route, to the west of the original route up to 16,000feet. A Canadian-American party made a variation of the West Rib. The West Rib was climbed solo by the German, Ruprecht Kammerlander, whose party of four originally registered for the Cassin route but split soon after reaching the mountain. The 1963 route on the East Buttress was climbed for the second time by William Dimpfl, Michael Syvanen, Richard Meinig, Urs Kühnlein and Peter McGann. One Japanese and three American guide services led a total of nine expeditions and 86 climbers to the summit of McKinley, all by the West Buttress. Only five climbers required emergency evacuation this year, a dramatic decline from the 33 of 1976. Two were injured in a fall on Foraker in March and evacuated by commercial helicopter. On McKinley a Japanese suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema was evacuated by military helicopter, an American with torn knee ligaments by airplane from 14,000 feet and a Japanese with a broken leg by airplane from 9000 feet. For the first time, in 1977, the National Park Service stationed two mountaineering rangers in Talkeetna for the climbing season. The rangers checked groups in and out, advised climbers on the hazards of high-altitude arctic mountaineering and helped coordinate rescues. In addition they carried out two ten-day patrols on the West Buttress up to 17,000 feet. They were able to assist three injured climbers who did not need air evacuation. We feel this was very successful and, budget permitting, we shall continue to have them in the future. All interested climbers are reminded that to climb on Mount McKinley or Mount Foraker you must register in advance with the National Park Service, PO Box 9, McKinley Park, Alaska 99755, submit a signed physician’s certificate for each climber, carry a two-way radio on your climb and check in on your return. For smaller peaks, you are only required to register in advance. All trash, equipment and unused food must be removed from the Park. If you carry it up the mountain, you can carry it back down.

Mount McKinley was ascended by the following numbers: West Buttress by 125; Muldrow Glacier by 32; Cassin Ridge by 8; South Face by 5; West Rib by 23; East Buttress by 5. Mount Foraker was climbed by the following: South Face by 2; Southeast Ridge by 4; Southwest Ridge by 4; West Ridge by 6. Other mountains had the following number of climbers: Silverthrone by 4; Brooks by 2; Scott Peak by 7.

Robert Gerhard, National Park Service

NOTE: All dates in this section refer to 1977 unless otherwise stated.

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