American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alaska, Mt. McKinley (2)

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

Alaska, Mt. McKinley (2). The British Joint Service Expedition of six men had reached 17,000 feet on the West Buttress route of Mt. McKinley on about June 25. Camp had been established and the party was ready to proceed to the summit. John H. Oldham (19) then succumbed from the altitude into a state of “semi-collapse,” unable to help himself. The summit attempt, for the time being, was abandoned, and the party was forced to manhandle Oldham through a descent of several thousand feet over varied terrain, using a variety of skills. He was evacuated by airplane within a few days. Mr. Oldham recovered at the lower elevations.

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

Analysis: There were no apparent reasons why this incident occurred. This could happen to anyone, and this situation merely affirms the possibility of occurrence; and that a party must be prepared and have the knowledge to rescue its own men, if possible.

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