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Surviving Denali, A Study of Accidents on Mount McKinley

Surviving Denali: A Study of Accidents on Mount McKinley 1903-1990. Jonathan Waterman, with an Introduction and chapter on Mountain Medicine by Peter H. Hackett, M.D. Second Edition, Revised. American Alpine Club Press, New York, 1991. 67 pages of black-and-white pictures, plus appendices and short bibliography. Soft cover.

Surviving Denali should be required reading for people climbing Mount McKinley. The first edition was published in 1983 and this edition brings it up to date. Accidents on the mountain are still common and the death toll continues to rise. This does not mean that climbing Mount McKinley should be discouraged, but that before climbers commit themselves, they should know what can happen. The book describes a series of accidents, most of which could have been avoided.

Chapters discuss high altitude, pulmonary and cerebral edema, frostbite, climbing falls, crevasse falls, avalanches, unusual accidents, preparations for Denali, and the use of drugs at high altitude. There are summaries of each type of accident.

Nobody is better prepared to write about the danger of climbing McKinley than Jonathan Waterman, who from 1976 to 1987 has been closely involved with the mountain as climber, ranger, guide and rescuer. He has risked his life to help others on various occasions, and knows well the highest northern mountain in the world and McKinley’s unique conditions and dangers.

Robert H. Bates