American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alaska, Mt. McKinley (1)

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Alaska, Mt. McKinley (1). The leader of the British Joint Service Expedition and one other had advanced ahead of the main group to work out the route to higher camp sites on the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley. At about 15,000 feet, they were caught in a series of severe storms and forced to camp for a few days.

Alex Fraser (27), perhaps out of concern for these two, led three other men up from 10,000 feet on about June 24 to rendezvous with the advance party and render aid if necessary. The group pushed uphill through a blizzard for nine hours. Fraser led most of the way. In order to see, he had frequently cleared the snow out of his goggles with his bare fingers which became frostbitten and blistered. Due to other circumstances, the entire party shortly after had to move back to base camp and Fraser was evacuated by airplane for medical attention. To our knowledge he lost no fingers due to the excellent care received in Anchorage.

Source: Bichard J. Stenmark, Mt. McKinley National Park.

Analysis: The concern for the advance party members apparently compelled Fraser to climb in the inclement weather. Light gloves would not have hindered cleaning goggles and would have offered some protection when hands were removed from mittens.

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.